"Well done, good and faithful servants"
" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7,8, KJV.
My father, Ronald R. Andrus, was born March 16, 1935, in Hayward, Wisconsin, to a dairy farmer. He was the youngest of 6. The next youngest was about 12 years older than he. He attended a small, one room school in northern Wisconsin. He rode his bike or walked the 2-3 miles to school each day, even in winter.
When he was ready for high school, he attended the Seventh-day Adventist boarding school, Wisconsin Academy, graduating in 1954.
My mother, Rita M. Higgins, was born August 18, 1934, in Port Au Prince, Haiti, to missionary parents. Her father was the auditor for the Inter- American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. They lived in Haiti, Cuba, Panama, and Costa Rica, during her early childhood years.
When she was around 12 or 13, they moved from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Green Bay, Wisconsin! Talk about culture-shock for my mom!
When she was ready to begin high school, she also attended Wisconsin Academy, graduating in 1953. After that, her family moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, so she could attend Andrews University (then called Emmanuel Missionary College).
My father also attended EMC, where he pursued and courted my mom. They were married August 19, 1956, and settled there in Berrien Springs, with a brief stint in northern Indiana.
They had 3 children: Gary (born in 1957), me (born in Indiana in 1962), and Norbert (born in 1963). After Mom graduated with her Bachelor's, she went on to earn her Master's degree. As part of her program, she went on a summer tour of Europe.
My parents began their teaching career for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination at a small, two-teacher school in southeast North Carolina in 1970. Thus began a 19-year career for my dad, and a 33 year career for my mom of teaching in SDA schools. They also taught in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
After Mom retired from teaching (Dad had retired from teaching earlier, and went back into sales) in 2002 or 2003, they moved to Florida, to live in the house that her parents built back in the mid-1960s.
My brothers and I grew up, attended Seventh-day Adventist academies; my brothers attended SDA colleges. We married, raised children, and now enjoy grandchildren/grand niece and nephews.
My children were all born in Montana. In 2005, my family and I moved to Florida to be near my folks, and to physically help them when they needed.
Dad had diabetes, and ended up with many of the issues that go with that: pancreatitis, chronic kidney disease and dialysis, he even had 2 or 3 heart attacks, and several stints.
Mom had asthma, COPD, arthritis, Lewy Body dementia, and had a mini stroke (maybe more than one?).
The past couple years have been especially rough, health wise. In 2021, we had COVID: my youngest son, my daughter and I, and my dad. Mom never, ever tested positive for COVID. My son had the lightest symptoms. My daughter and I had it pretty rough, so did my dad. He and I ended up going to the hospital on the same day. I was in the hospital for 23 days! He was there longer.
In May, 2022, Mom and my youngest son were in a car accident on their way home from dropping Dad off at dialysis. They both went to the ER, and Mom was life flighted to a larger hospital. After that she was in rehab.
In June, my dad took a bad turn, and ended up in the hospital. Then he to went to rehab. Mom and Dad were able to share a room for several weeks, before Dad took another bad turn.
In August, they were together to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary.
Dad was back in the hospital in October (he'd fallen out of bed. He was also testing positive for COVID, and had been for a few weeks). On October 14, I was called in to sign the paper work to admit Dad into hospice care. While I was there, I went in to visit him. Since he was testing positive, I had to gown up before going in.
When I walked in, he was asleep. The oxygen cannula wasn't in his nose, so I reached over to gently put it into his nose. Immediately he started fussing: "I've told you all to just leave me alone and let me sleep! Can't you just leave me alone?!" Then he opened his eyes and saw me, and said in a sweet voice: "Oh, hi, Daughter!" then closed his eyes again.
I stood there looking at him a moment, then said, "I love you, Dad. Everything's going to be alright. We're going to take care of Mom; don't worry. It's okay to go to sleep now."
He was taken to Hospice House that night. My brothers made a fast trip down. We planned to set up our folks' house so Mom and Dad could be together however few days Dad had left. But on October 17, I received the call that Dad had passed away. Norbert and his wife were still 3 hours away when I received the call.
Instead of setting up our folks' house, we switched to preparing a room for Mom to come here, so I could take care of her here. We tried to find an aide to come help me, but it ended up being Steven and I taking care of her. We did have home health nurses and physical therapists coming in each week.
For Thanksgiving, my oldest son, Tim, and his family came here for dinner. We all gathered in Mom's room to eat. My middle son, Daniel (who lives in Texas), my niece and a friend of theirs, came in December. We celebrated Christmas then, even though it was the middle of the month.
On January 30, Mom was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She failed her swallow test, so they wanted to put in a feeding tube. In the end, she came home on hospice. Now we had more help, because an aide came in to bathe Mom twice a week, and nurses came in twice a week.
March 16 would have been Dad's birthday. That also was the day Mom seemed to begin a rather rapid decline. On March 21, the nurse switched her to "imminent" status. By this time, I was playing calm, soothing hymns via YouTube on the TV in her room.
Around 9:30 the night of March 21, Steven and I changed Mom, and settled her for bed. After Steven left the room, I bent down to Mom, and said:
"It's okay, Mom. You have been a faithful servant. You have fought a good fight. You can go to sleep now. The next thing you see will be Jesus' face. You'll see my dad. You'll see your dad. I love you. And I will miss you."
I left the room to go use the bathroom. When I came back, I looked for the slight throb of the pulse in her neck. I felt there for a pulse. I check to see if her chest was rising and falling. I even tried to feel if any breath was coming from her mouth. I called Steven in and told him I didn't think she had any pulse. I said, "I think she's gone!"
I called hospice, and told them I thought she was gone. They sent out a nurse. He pronounced official time of death at 11:18, pm, March 21, 2023.
Mom fell asleep in Jesus' arms 5 months and 4 days after Dad did. Now they sleep, waiting for that resurrection morning when the trumpet of God sounds, and Jesus calls His sleeping saints to awake.
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, KJV.
From the signs all around us in this old, weary world, truly His coming can't be far off.
To end, I'd like to share a few songs with you.
My prayer is that each of you will accept Jesus into your heart, follow Him, and that you each will be ready for that glorious day when Jesus returns to take all of His people home.
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Revelation 22:20,21, KJV.
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