Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 1, 2012

Lesson From A Dying Man

This afternoon my friend Doyle and I visited with an elderly man who is not a member of our church. This man recently entered hospice care because he is losing his fight against multiple tumors. His doctors expect that he only has weeks of life remaining. The old gentleman is already losing his hearing, his strength, and experiencing some loss of memory. In the course of our conversation, Doyle asked this septuagenarian if he was prepared to face death. The man paused, looked down, and began to weep. Through his tears said that he did not want to die until he had told his younger brother that he loved him. And then the rest of the story unfolded.

Almost a decade ago, this man and his brother, fourteen years younger, had a falling out — an argument that led to a physical fight that resulted in both of these men going their separate ways. One day at a time, these brothers allowed their anger and bitterness and pride to keep them apart until the accumulation of days turned into years. Neither of them was willing to take the first step toward reconciliation. Finally, the coming of death forced the older brother to do what he should have done years ago. A couple of days ago he located his brother with the help of the hospice staff. The old man wept as he told us that he had finally apologized to his brother and told him that he loved him.

Over the remainder of our time with him, the old gentleman wept and confessed other regrets that he had lived with for years. One by one, he had allowed these unresolved tensions and frustrations to distance him from his family and to rob him of peace. And now, he is at the end of his journey wishing things would have been different. He had gotten what he wanted but, in the process, lost what he had. After our time of prayer and efforts to encourage him, Doyle and I walked away with heavy hearts. I was again reminded of why we should never allow the sun to go down on our anger but should seek to make things right with others while we still have opportunity. I don’t want for regrets to rob me of peace in my final days.


Responses

  1. Much respect my friend.

  2. What a great lesson.

    • Thanks, John. God has a way of reminding us about what is important in life in unexpected ways.

  3. Omar, thanks for the touching and sober reminder.

    • It was so sad to sit and watch this man cry. He assured us that he has a relationship with Christ and knows that He has been forgiven.

  4. Wow. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. So many ways to learn from the elderly – both from their victories and their mistakes. You’re sharing of this man’s reconciliation with his brother has shown how God works all things for good. I bet someone else will be reconciled to a loved one before more damage has been done because they read this post.

    God Bless!

    Chad

    • Thanks, Chad. That indeed is my prayer. Imminent death definitely alters perspective and forces folks to make an effort to make things right. May we all learn to do what is right long before death is at our door.


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