--March 26, 2020
Ten days of Farewell Reunion with family climaxed as Jim completed the journey through the gates that he said he saw into the arms of Jesus at 6:56 am March 25 to Forever Living. All this all happened in five short weeks. The grandchildren and great grandchildren, two brothers and a nephew, speaker phone calls from his siblings, and a few brief visits from friends were able to slip by and bid farewell to Jim.
This is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic to have our children free from teaching and other employment to be present during this final week of their father’s life to lovingly care for him and bolster me. My almost daughter, and family friend, Kathy, sat with me before his Biopsy the first week all day, taking notes while the doctors explained what we were facing and then has provided delicious meals for our family several days during our final week.
Hospice care-givers came as we needed their advice on how to care for Jim and administer meds. I could not have gone through this ten-day care and farewell without our children, local grandchildren, and their spouses. Another set of all-star Care-givers. Neighbors, friends and church family have offered their help if needed. Many cards and emails have encouraged us with notes and promises of prayer support—which we feel.
As I read tributes to Jim, who could not speak, heard his goal in life to serve the Lord and love others being reiterated over and over, tears of joy would appear. I’ll share one:
“Dear Ruth & Family,
I cannot recall any other fellow Baptist pastor who always and everywhere walked with God in peace, grace and Kingdom vision for all circumstances. His churches, his family and his leadership seemed to emanate the very presence of Christ.
To be around him just made us all a little better than we really were. How fortunate I have been to walk the road with him (and all his family) for the 5 years in BCPSJ and afterwards for many years and pleasant memories.
I once read that a saint is one who makes it easier for another person to be good. And so, it was with Jim. Thank you, Jim, a dear brother in Christ. Thank you, Ward family, for so often reflecting Christ as He taught you. With love, appreciation, and grief, Wallace and Judith”
Daughter, Kay and I were keeping our early morning vigil with him after Sons, David and Roger and their spouses had completed their through-the-night watches. I was in the process of praying with him and saying Ps 116 and II Thess 3:16 “May the Lord of peace, Himself, give you peace at all times and in every way.” and urging him on as he trudged up that steep hill when we realized he was taking shorter breaths. Kay woke Roger and David and we encircled his bed as he took his last breaths. “Praise God, he has been released” expressed my tearful joy for him. A sweet but heavy moment. Son, Roger led in prayer of praise. I thank the Lord for our wonderful children. You can’t imagine how much we all loved, enjoyed, respected and appreciated Jim.
How will I function without him? One day at a time knowing the Lord will continue to sustain me. This is the first blog Jim has not read and approved. How I will miss my soul-mate of 65 years of friendship, parenting, teamwork and doing everything together. I was so dependent on him. We often talked about knowing that death would one day separate us. Both of us wanted to go last to be there for our family. But we both assumed that wouldn’t happen until we were in our 90s.
I covet your prayers.
P.S We will have a public celebration of life service at the former Temple Baptist church building when crowds are allowed to assemble.