Someone once wrote that death, for the Christian, is not the extinguishing of light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. The dawn came in more ways than one yesterday morning for my hero and my father-in-law, Ivan Sipes.
Mildred and I had two very blessed weeks with Dad and the rest of the family. The Hospice nurse had said he would not be likely to last more than a couple days, so Mildred and I rushed to Ohio to say goodbye. We got to do more than say goodbye. Dad’s body lasted two more weeks after we arrived. By then he needed a tremendous amount of care and we are very glad we had the opportunity to help — and to sing with him, pray with him, and read scripture to him. Mildred’s sister Cheryl was there from Texas and her daughter Amy arrived just before we did. They had been working very hard to help Mom take care of Dad. Their brother John was there as much as he could be, but running a business is also very demanding. It was wonderful how everyone pitched in.
I was facing a rock solid deadline to return to Roatán because the folks who were here volunteering to cover for Peter and Sandi on their home assignment had to leave yesterday. Their visas expired that day, so I had to get back here. Radio stations don’t run themselves. Ben and Pat Burkey had arrived the day we left Roatán, but with just two weeks experience there was no way we could ask them to pull that kind of load.
Mildred stayed behind so that she can continue to help and to be there for her daddy’s funeral on Friday. She re-booked her flight to return this coming Saturday. Her sweet cousin Donna and Donna’s incredible husband Rick came to get me at the farm at a little before 4:00 yesterday morning to take me to the airport in Columbus. I can’t begin to thank them enough for their help. Cheryl had offered to take me, but when dad started to go seriously downhill Friday night she thought better of it. Good thing! Mildred called me while I was at the gate to tell me that Dad had just checked into his new home in glory.
Mildred’s brother John had asked me to deliver Dad’s eulogy. He was sure he would not have been able to contain his emotions. I can sure understand that! Once it became apparent that I would not be able to be there for the funeral, I went to work on a video tribute that I hope will encourage those who attend the funeral. It was a lot of work, but it was worth every second as I rummaged through my memory banks and also learned from family and friends about other wonderful nuggets from Ivan’s life. I don’t know if I will be able to make that tribute more widely available. That is up to the family. But you can always learn more about Ivan by reading his obituary and then clicking the link to the guestbook. Our son, Jesse, shared his thoughts about the grandpa he loved so dearly on his blog.
What happened yesterday morning was not the end of Ivan Sipes’ story. It was the end of the remarkable prelude to an amazing tale that will never end. The tale of a man totally devoted to Jesus.