Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facing Mortality, Yet Again

Gary runs a non denominational Christian drug and alcohol rehab shelter. His men helped us build our Church. Ironically Gary was a minister at the church of Christ that I got "disfellowshipped" from 6 years before he came on board. We met him at a city interfaith event. We've done Vespers at the shelter, his men come to our Mission for Bible study and services once in a while. Gary says of all the Churches they visit they like ours the most.

Gary and his men have been helping us get our property ready for our first Bishop's visit this weekend. I saw one of his men Wednesday afternoon and he said Gary was having some chest pains. I asked him if he called 911. He said, no...Gary went home to rest and was coming back later to finish moving their stuff to the back lot. I called Gary's cell and no answer. Not a good sign. I went to his house, no one home...maybe a better sign, at least I didn't have to break the door down. I found Gary at 7:30pm in our Church parking lot sitting in his van. He was trying to move a trailer out of sight to the back lot. He looked like hell. I told him, "You're going to the hospital, right now...moving a pile of trash for our Bishop is not worth your life." He looked at me and said, "You're not going to let me out of this are you?" I said, "No. I'll drag you out of this van and carry you there if I have to." (He weighs 350 pounds). "Thanks," he said. And we went to the emergency room.

I sat with Gary tonight for a couple hours. He's in a lot of pain and they are still running tests. At 64 he's facing his mortality. We talked about DNR's, living wills, worst case what will become of the men in his program, who will make the final decisions about pulling the plug on him if it comes to that, his childhood in the Ozarks of Arkansas, running a hot dog stand, his former marriage, traffic tickets, getting shot with rock salt stealing watermelons and life's regrets and satisfactions and delusions. Though there are no specific diagnoses or prognoses by medical professionals, the inescapable one that does not take an MD to know is "the flesh is corruptible and death is inevitable".

Tonight I will download legal forms for a living will for him. Tomorrow we'll have biopsy results and they'll do a cardiac stress test. Tomorrow night our Bishop arrives for the weekend. There will be things around the Church left undone that I didn't do to finish sprucing up for the Bishop's visit. If the paint in the bathroom didn't get touched up and if I'm not there to "sub-deacon" him every moment he's there because I'm at the hospital, I know he'll understand. He's like that.

Please pray for the servant of God, Gary, benefactor to our Mission and to "the least of these".

15 comments:

Larry said...

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Gary.

He'll be in my prayers, as will you. And you're right about Bishop Benjamin...we're very blessed to have him as our bishop.

margaret said...

I will pray for Gary.

Anonymous said...

Consider it done. Lord have mercy.

Anonymous said...

Most Holy Birth giver of God, have mercy on us, and Gary.

November In My Soul said...

I'll pray for both of you.

elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy. Prayers.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Lord, have mercy on Gary and grant him all things needful for his salvation.

Sophocles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophocles said...

My prayers are with you.

Lord have mercy on the servant of God, Gary.

James the Thickheaded said...

May God bless you for the mercies shown - and for an understanding wife and sympathetic Moo, and may God have mercy on Gary.

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

prayers for Gary!

Rdr. David said...

Lord, have mercy.

Ali said...

Steve, I read your blog quite a bit (and I am the one who emailed you about your capital punishment podcasts). I have to say that I am always amazed at how you show the love of Christ to others. You really take take your call as a Christian seriously, and I think so many people can learn from you. I know so many people in Orthodoxy would be worried about having a perfect Liturgy set up for the Bishop. What is so special about what you are doing here is that you are placing an individual's need before having a perfect Liturgy (and yes I do understand the importance of a proper Liturgy because I am an Orthodox Christian). You really are loving your neighbor as you love yourself. May you be blessed and may God have mercy on Gary.

s-p said...

Ali, Thank you. It is ironic that the Gospel reading for the Sunday of our Bishop's visit was the lawyer's question "Who is our neighbor". It grieves me to admit there were those among our parish that put the preparations for our Bishop's visit above the neighborly needs of our friends (not even strangers...) I'm still trying to decide whether or not to make a blog post out of it. sigh.

Anonymous said...

Initially, Fr. Christian did not undergo any formal training in the art of drink, but came up solely through his sheer talent and passion for the molecule. He rapidly imbibed a plethora of bottles just by reaching for them. Soon, he asked to be moved to a small chapel where he has become an imbiber of great repute. On one occasion, under the guise of a backyard BBQ, he took on in contest the greatest masters of the art of drink in his village and won outright, though somewhat yellowish in pallor by the end. He then decided that he should undergo formal training himself, so he approached Hank William via a local fortune teller and medium and requested him to teach him. Within a few years, he had grown immensely in his drinking knowledge and abilities, and also became a well-known teacher of the art in his own right.