What greater tribute to a man of God could there be than this....May we all aspire to climb higher...may the memory of this godly man live on in our hearts....
Memories from Papa's final moments
Written Jul 7, 2012 6:24pm by Jackie Kenaston
Amidst the many details swirling around our lives as we prepare for three days of viewing and funeral, I do not want the memories of the final hours of Papa's life to be forgotten by us or missed by you. Truly we have seen many mercies of God throughout the months of my father's sickness, and his peaceful passing surely qualifies as one more of God's blessings to us in this crisis.
My family and I were visiting some dear friends in Kentucky on Sunday when Papa suffered his final pain crisis. We were already on the way to SC, and moved up our plans in order to be with him as it became clear that we were in the final stages of his battle. We arrived in SC on Tuesday (July 3) around noon, and spent the afternoon taking turns at his bedside, sharing words of love and singing some of his old favorites. We had no response from him to confirm that he was aware of our presence, and yet we felt that either in spirit or in body, he was listening and blessed. It was tough to see Papa in a coma, and yet we were so grateful that he seemed comfortable and not in pain. After the suffering of Sunday afternoon, the rest seemed like a wonderful gift!
We decided to split up the night and take turns sitting by his side (as we have done many time throughout these months). It felt to all of us like this could be Papa's final hours, so even those not on for their shift sort of hung around for a good part of the night. My wife and I started our shift at 11, just sitting by his bedside and whispering words of affirmation and encouragement in his ears. Sometimes it seems like people hold on to life, waiting for reassurances from loved ones before allowing themselves to go, so we spent time confirming our presence and promising future care for Mama after his passing. We also talked a lot about heaven and the great reward waiting for Papa there. Obviously, we have no way to know how much of this was registering with Papa, but it sure felt like we were holding his hand spiritually as well as physically during those final hours.
Around 1 on Wednesday morning I started to recount memories and blessings from my childhood, thanking Papa for his love and guidance in my life. It was a very emotional moment for me, feeling that I would not have many more chances to bless Papa for his input in my life. Somewhere in this time period Christy and I started to pray with Papa, asking God to release him and take him home. We kept reassuring him that he could go, that Jesus would be waiting for him, and that Mama would be cared for here.
Just a few minutes before 2 in the morning, we noticed that his breathing was slowing rapidly, and I jumped up to call Mama from the adjoining room. She came immediately, as well as three of my sisters who were resting or waiting nearby. We all rushed back to his side for the final breath, and waited together wondering if this peaceful passing was for real. After so much pain on Sunday, we had all hoped that Papa could pass on without pain and at peace. As the moments passed and we realized that the battle was over for Papa, floods of thoughts and emotions poured through all of our hearts. Relief that Papa had passed on so peacefully, tears for the finality of the loss we were experiencing, and somehow a thrill in our hearts also as we imagined the trumpets or drum roll that must accompany the entry of a man of God into heaven!!
We decided to wait on calling the funeral home for a few hours to give us time to process Papa's passing with our families. As we brought our children in to say goodbye to Grandpa, we were all amazed to see the peaceful, almost smiling expression on his face.After all the months of somewhat uneven smiles as the left side of his body stopped functioning, and days of pained expressions, the restful look on his face was so special to each of us! One of my children commented that it looks like Grandpa has a secret he wants to share! Surely he does!
If you will allow me, I'd like to share my own personal feelings as I kept returning to the room where the shell of my dear father's body lay. I felt like a junior officer entering the office of his commanding general. I wanted to snap to attention and salute! Farewell to the general and pace setter of our family! Farewell to the man we have been honored to call Papa!
Farewell to a spiritual mountain climber, always ahead of us and shouting about the view just a little higher! Sometimes the pace he set for us was tiring, and we wrestled with weariness in following him, but he always believed in the thrill of the mountain peak just ahead. Sometimes he stumbled as he climbed above us, and the gravel that came scattering down around us concerned us as we climbed, but within moments would come the shout we were waiting for as he gained another foothold, just above the last one! That he has slipped into the clouds further up the mountain is sad, as we have drawn much strength from watching his climb. But even from the misty peaks where he now rests and thrills in the views, we hear his challenge and encouragement to climb higher! Farewell! Farewell!! We follow with greater zeal because of your example and the shouts of victory we have heard from your life and now your death! Your Son
From the hand of Daniel for the family