As many of you know, my father-in-law, Mark Schilperoort, was granted victory over his 4 ½ year battle with A.L.S. when he went home to be with the Lord. A.L.S. is most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famous baseball player whose struggle with the condition first brought it to notoriety.
In Mark’s case the condition progressed steadily over the past several years. At one point, back in March of 2014, Mark’s condition led to him getting a respiratory illness which, at the time, we thought may be the time of his passing. The family gathered around and each one of us took a moment to pay respects to this great man who, along with his wife, raised three amazing daughters, and had become grandfather to 8 terrific kids.
And then he rallied and recovered.
However, on September 24th of this year, with very little warning, Mark passed away.
This morning I was reflecting on what a blessing it was that we had an opportunity to share what we believed would be our last words. This was a special blessing because of how we were not afforded the opportunity to do so when his time truly came.
Then, as I am prone to do, my thoughts wandered. I started imagining what I may say when the day comes that I am where Mark was – saying those final farewells to my children. In my mind’s eye I was trying to imagine them as adults (I’m obviously planning on living a few more years).
I quickly realized I didn’t want to dwell on such thoughts for too long and sort of chided myself for being silly at thinking such thoughts and wondered at the sudden appearance of all this “dust” that was causing my eyes to start to water so much.
And yet, through the day, I’ve found myself returning to such thoughts and I’ve been thankful many times for that opportunity to say goodbye to Mark back in March, even though it turned out that our goodbye wouldn’t actually take place for more than a year later.
As we move forward toward our national celebration of Thanksgiving, give thought to what you would say to those for whom you most care. And give thought to what you might regret not having the opportunity to say. And then don’t wait for death bed moments, but pick up the phone, or drop by forvisit, or invite them out to coffee – and tell your loved ones why it is that you are so thankful for them.
Blessings all, Pastor Tim