These are 5 letters, written to my church family, about my dad’s final 5 weeks on earth. They are full of miracles and great hope. I pray they bring you peace and laughter. My dad would’ve enjoyed laughing with us. :) I imagine he is!
December 9, 2011
Hey:) Wow. Today was miraculous. It was a really good day, physically, for my dad. He was breathing better, awake and alert all day. He looked healthy. They got a lot of fluid off of his lungs last night and they (mom, too) had their first full nights sleep in a week. They had lots of company and laughed and enjoyed the day.
In the morning we had hope of a pace maker helping regulate his heart beat to match the irregular rhythm of the valve in his heart. By the afternoon a surgeon told us that wasn’t an option b/c the MRI and ultra sounds were giving conflicting results. We need a tie breaker, so sometime soon they’re going to put a camera down his throat and get better pictures of what the valve is really doing. They’re not giving up hope, but his liver is not functioning properly…has fluid and too much pressure to sustain having anesthesia during any surgery….so even if/when they find a surgical fix his liver has to have a tune up or it could fail during or after the surgery and he would die from that.
Two days ago the Dr came in with what seemed like a death sentence. After they left, my dad was quiet for a few minutes then looked at my mom and me and said “So, what do you think heaven will be like?” That question opened a whole new realm. We went from hopelessness in the flesh to wonder and amazement at our miraculous ability to talk openly about heaven, life, and his funeral arrangements. Our dear friend of almost 30 years has said he would be honored to speak. He picked his 4 favorite hymns to play (one is “Just a closer walk with thee” on the harmonica, from Cool Hand Luke). I told him he should be buried in a t-shirt and jeans, since he lived in those….but that his mother would be mortified. He said “Yeah, it has to be a suit”.
The conversations are priceless. The atmosphere in the room has gone from doom and gloom to great hope in him becoming more fully alive as he leaves this shell. We’d still take a miraculous healing for $200, but our trust and faith in the Lord’s wisdom is gaining momentum at an accelerated rate. I never would’ve thought we could go from such fear of the unknown (in this realm) to peace and calm assurance by a simple question of “So, what do you think heaven will be like?” He said he didn’t think it would be fun to sit around worshipping God all the time. I told him we (as a religious, short-sighted collective group) have totally distorted the word worship…that heaven would be a perfect sense of well-being, and that it would surpass the Saints winning the Superbowl in the thrilling department.
I’m so so thankful for the gift of being here for all of this. The most incredible thing happened last night. A good friend of mine, here, sent me an email showing I was owed over $100 from the Louisiana treasury dept. Every now and then she puts in the names of everyone she knows to see if anyone has unclaimed funds. She said $100 is the most it’ll show until I put in my info, but it could be anything. I thought “That’s cool….$100 would be great”. But the Lord is so timely and generous…..when I got on the website and entered my information it showed they owe me $1520! At the beginning of the week I was struggling with weather or not to go to work this week and come home next weekend. Then I decided I had the rest of my life to make up bills and I wasn’t going anywhere. So I let it go….and He’s sending me a check. Unbelievable. Tender mercy. Surely (most definitely) His lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life….and I am dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
I love you all. I printed out all of the emailed prayers and my parents read them. They were so touched. So touched. Thank you so much.
December 18, 2011
Hey:) Today is a much better day! After going into the hospital yesterday, the Dr’s determined that the old hospital (that he left Friday night….sort of a break out b/c they didn’t want him to go…but they agreed to discharge him;) was over medicating him. His kidneys were shutting down b/c they were so dehydrated. Now that he’s had a few bags of fluids he can move everything without pain and feels so much better. He was feeling sick to his stomach every time he drank a sip and couldn’t eat much. Last night they put in a catheter and all that bladder fluid is gone. Great relief!
He’s so funny. We had 3 friends in the room, and we were about to pray. Dad had been telling them how bad all of his organs were doing and then he says “Where 6 or more organs are gathered together…..”. lol
Last Wednesday he and my mom were up at 4am (couldn’t sleep) in the hospital, listening to hymns and worship cds. Dad was feeling so bad and told my mom “I think I need a holy man”. Around the same time, their good friend woke up and determined in his heart to go see my dad the next day. He told his wife, whether she could go or not, he needed to go see Sam. So his wife called my mom to see if it was a good day to come. My mom just broke down at the tenderness of the Lord. Touching each heart to yearn for the other. They came over and my dad got answers to the questions in his heart. My mom and his wife had gone down to lunch, so my dad and his friend could talk alone and when they left my dad told my mom “I got what I needed.” I told my mom “Dad is a holy man”.
This morning we were talking with another friend and my dad was saying how just a few days earlier he was thinking he was going to get his wish to go be with Jesus. He was feeling so sick. Then my mom says “Yeah, but now I’ve gotten my wish!.” I told them this will determine who the Lord loves best. My dad has a shirt that says “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite”, so my mom said she’s going to wear that shirt, but if my dad dies she’ll put it on him. We were all laughing. There hasn’t been a subject that is too sacred to joke about in our family.
So, truly the Lord is with us and cares for every need. We are thankful for every good minute. Thankful for every laugh. Thankful for every friend and every thought and prayer (probably the same thing:).
The enemy has been working on getting me to feel hopelessness in the morning. I was walking the dog the other day (good therapy for the dumps) and I asked the Lord “What lie am I believing that is making me so sad?” I felt like He said “That this feeling will last forever”. Just hearing those words reminded me that good times will come again and it took away some of the sting. That was cool.
I am so happy to hear of Mitch’s good report. So glad Mark is there with Rose. Sounds like it’s been a love fest. :) We feel it here, too.
December 28, 2011
Hey Saints. :) So glad Mitch is doing so good! Loved the “thumbs up” picture.
We now have 24 hour nurse care for my dad, through hospice. He has a gel bed in the living room and I got a full nights sleep last night. I woke up, refreshed, at 5am (had gone to bed about 9) and sat with my dad. Around 7am he was trying to scratch an itch on his arm, so I rubbed his arm for a minute. The next thing I knew I couldn’t keep my eyes open! The nurse had put a topical cream narcotic on his arm and I’d been rubbing it. It knocked me out cold for 3 hours. Lol. I loved it….gonna keep that handy.
Mom slept on the couch, with the nurse on the other couch keeping watch. She’s sleeping peacefully when she sleeps. That’s a blessing. She hadn’t been able to eat much, but last night we had a wonderful visitor, who prayed for her to eat, and by dinner she was hungry and ate a big dinner and it tasted great to her. Praise God! She’s down to 129, from about 140. I can’t imagine the heartache she’s facing. She met my dad when she was 16 and he was 19. They’ve been together ever since and she’s had a supernatural love for him. She’s going to be great though.
My mom and I left for lunch today….it’s the first time she’s left my dad at home with the nurse. Even though our fridge is overstuffed with food from friends and family…it was so good for her to get away for an hour. When I got up from my drug induced coma, the nurse was telling my mom (kindly) “You’ve been fidgeting with Sam since I got here.” Every time he would cough, or try to sit up better or readjust, we would run to his side and try to help him. The nurse told me that what we thought was loving help was actually over stimulating him and keeping him agitated. That was so good to learn, because now my mom can relax – knowing that she’s helping him more by not fussing with him constantly.
The visitor was the hospice chaplain. When I heard a chaplain was coming over to pray I didn’t have great expectations. lol. But when Dave Diamond showed up we were in for a real treat. He knows the finished work of Christ and he encouraged us so much. He asked me, pretty quickly, if I knew Jesus and I said “Yes, and He knows me. ” lol He doesn’t want a church so he goes to 2 churches and teaches a bible study at the gym I used to teach group fitness at! The owner of that gym understands who he is in Christ, too. I’d had a good conversation with him at a Christmas party about 3 years ago, but didn’t realize how much he understood. I’m so excited for my mom to have this new group of Saints to encourage her in Slidell. The Lord has woven out a path of tenderness and mercy for us to walk through. It’s just been incredible to see His hand in the middle of what looks like such chaos. David gave me a website for a guy named John Sheasby. I haven’t checked it out yet, but he’s teaching truth and you guys might like to check it out. www.liberatedliving.com My mom and I agreed that we knew he was living an exchanged life when he told us he got a job at a school where they were displaying the 10 commandments and he thought to himself “I won’t be in this job long”. lol He said he wanted to take that down and put up Galations 2:20. :))
My dad isn’t eating anymore and he barely swallows liquid medicine. He was totally non responsive for about a day, but now he comes out of it and we can understand him sometimes. My sister–in-laws, sister, is his hospice nurse (I know, another huge blessing) and we’ve known and loved her for over 20 years. She’s not the full-time nurse, but she was there the first day and comes by daily. This morning she checked my dad’s blood pressure and it was 80/50—-good for him. She said “Sam, you’re amazing” and he said “You’re amazing”. She couldn’t believe it. She said she’ll never forget that. So sweet. He smiles at us and laughs at whatever he’s thinking about sometimes.
My dad has the best sense of humor. He’s been wearing a “breathe right” on his nose for the past month. The other day he asked my mom for a new one, and after she applied it he said “This thing….(then he paused)” then he said “I was going to say this thing is a life saver.” Then he acted like he was going to rip it off of his nose (because he wasn’t trying to save his life). We laughed so hard! What I’ll miss most is our shared sense of humor…..who’s gonna “get me” like my dad….. We sure have a special bond of understanding each other. I’m thankful for that.
I love you all. I don’t know when I’ll see you again, but sometime in January. The hospice nurse says people can live for up to three weeks without eating or drinking. We’re praying it’ll only be hours or days. Maybe this week he’ll be more fully alive than any of us! I’m so excited for him. He’s not even going to miss us because, in Christ, we are already there with him. Isn’t that mind blowing??!! I LOVE it!!
A few hours before he stopped communicating he asked me to send a text to his grandkids, from his phone. He said “There’s something very important I want to tell you. When I leave this body I’ll be with Jesus immediately, because of what He did for us. Trust in Jesus and I’ll see you there. I’ll say hi to your Paw-Paw for you. I am so proud of you and I love you very much. Grampa”. That brought back the sweetest texts from the kids. Those were my oldest brothers kids. My other brother’s kids (2 nephews) came to the house and he told them the same thing in person. So precious. I’m in awe of my dad. He’s showing all of us how to do this “stepping out of this realm thing” in style. Amazing. Blessed assurance is the greatest peace there is.
January 3, 2012
Hey sweet Saints of the Living God,
My precious dad now knows how loved he/we have always been. Isn’t that amazing. He was born on Christmas Day and stepped out of this realm on New Years Day. Always the one to try to make things easier for everyone, he gave us dates to remember.
On his birthday, Christmas, he was still fully alert and having great conversations. He woke up and took a shower, with my mom’s help. He told her “Linda, you’ve got to help me clean up this body. It’s not my body anymore and you’re in this with me.” He knew all the family would be over and wanted to get ready, but he told my mom he didn’t know how he’d get through the day. It turned into the most precious day. He treasured every moment of watching us all talk and hang out with him. He told the grandkids exactly where he was going and that he’d be there immediately. In 2003 he’d paid for his funeral. He was having a surgery back then that he thought would take him Home…but he lived for 8 more hard, but great years. Throughout those 8 years he’d drive by his “condo” (he bought an eye level crypt – so the kids wouldn’t get a crick in their neck;) with the kids and say “Say hi to grandpa” jokingly. On his birthday he told the kids “You know how I always say “Say hi to grandpa? Well I won’t be there.”
He and my mom had watched a sermon by Joseph Prince (www.josephprince.org) that really helped my dad. He’d been having negative/weird thoughts and Joseph said “Those thoughts are not yours. You can tell them they are not from you and to get out”. My dad did that and told my mom “It works!” That was so cool.
During the night he told my mom it was time to call hospice. He’d been sleeping in the recliner and having a couple of seizure spells nightly. They were so scary and the one he had Monday morning we thought was it. But he rallied out of it and we called hospice. That night my oldest brother spent the night with mom and me. We took turns sitting on the side of the recliner, making sure dad didn’t fall over. Thank the Lord we had a hospice bed the next morning, and 24 hour nurse care. What a life saver for us! The nurses were so compassionate and mom had a great time, in the midst of all the fear and chaos, ministering to the nurses who were hurting and giving them great hope. I think everyone, from the hospitals to the home care, were touched and changed by my mom and dad’s sweet, tender Spirit. The hospice chaplain told us that, at the office, they label families. Sometimes they come across an “Adams” family (not good) and sometimes they come across “The Walton’s”. He said they call us “The Walton’s”. LOL We loved that.
That was Tuesday. For the next couple of days he was in and out of sleeping on morphine and other relaxing meds. Sometimes he’d wake up fully and say our name or smile. Mostly he asked us to help him sit up better. It was so hard to watch him be uncomfortable. We had nearly every pillow in the house surrounding him….didn’t know we owned that many pillows.
The days went by fast. He was on hospice for 6 days. On New Years Day he woke up with short/rapid breath and a high fever. My mom thought that would be the day. Around 4pm she and I took a walk around the block and when we got back the nurse was sitting with him and said it was almost time. She was praying we’d get back in time. We didn’t know it was that close. We called my brothers and they came over. There was a football game on, so as my mom and I were holding my dad’s hand – watching him quit breathing and start breathing again – they were commenting on the game…my dad would’ve been doing the same with them. We were surprised when he took his last breath and was gone. He didn’t make a sound. He was in no pain. It was weird how fast his form changed from having life to being an empty shell. We knew his spirit was with the Lord but we cried.
Our friends came over immediately and there were about 12 people milling about the house. I was sitting on the couch, with my Mom and our friend and my dad was still in the bed in the living room. It was so weird to be having our own conversations around him and not with him, so I finally said “Talk about having an elephant in the room”. That made us laugh. It’s something my dad would’ve said. I’m sure I’ll think that a lot from now on…..that’s something my dad would’ve said.
We have family coming in from the 4 corners of the country. There will be a lot of great stories shared about my Dad. That’s one good thing about these gatherings. And boy are there stories to tell! He was the biggest adventure I knew. I can’t imagine the adventure he’s on now but I know it tops all of his earthly adventures put together. What a ride!
His obituary is on the web…. www.honakerforestlawn.com Samuel P. Sorensen. We found a great picture of him. He was a class act. His yes was yes and his no was no. He was full of integrity and wit. He loved to entertain and everyone felt welcome in his home. I know he’s glad to be FULLY ALIVE and full of health and vigor. Can’t wait to spend eternity with him.
My mom and I love you all so much. She is looking forward to seeing you face to face again soon. You are part of our family.
February 3, 2012
It’s been over a month since my dad went into glory. So much has happened since then. We had his viewing on January 4th and his funeral service on the 5th. Rick asked for an evening viewing, so the elevator guys could come. Boy did they show up. We couldn’t count the people, as they came and went between 6 and 9, but I bet there were well over 200 people Wednesday night. We talked with a lot of people and at the end of the night my friend said “You guys were comforting all those people instead of them comforting you.” I felt like we had good news to share, about dad being in a young, healthy, glorified body, and I told anyone who would listen. I hope people were greatly encouraged.
The flower arrangements were beautiful. There were about 8 sprays and lots of Peace Lilies, orchids and other plants. One flower shop said “He must’ve been greatly loved. I’ve never made so many arrangements for one person.” The day after the funeral we picked up the arrangements and could barely fit them in the Yukon. There were 33 and they were beautiful. We spent some time passing them out around town – at friend’s and families homes, churches and a retirement home. My mom wound up writing over 60 thank you notes for all the heartfelt well wishes. We were very touched. We had family fly/drive in from all 4 corners of the country. About 22 friends and family came from out of town. We went to Young’s Steakhouse for dinner (Friday night) and there were about 30 people there.
The service was at 2pm on a gorgeous Thursday. The sun was shining brightly and it was barely sweater weather. A perfect day and dad would’ve really liked it. Instead of flowers, an American flag draped the beautiful coffin my dad had picked out. The service couldn’t have been more perfect. My dad had decided against playing Cool Hand Luke’s version of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, but as the service started the pastor’s wife was playing that song on the piano. She didn’t even know he liked it and we were touched that it was included after all. Then our good friend, Suki, sang “The Old Rugged Cross” (in the beginning), “Amazing Grace”(in the middle) and “Blessed Assurance” (at the end). She has the most gorgeous voice and she sang without instruments.
Our friend, Morris, spoke about my dad’s life and no friend could’ve known him better. At one point he said “We’re not talking about an angel, we’re talking about Sam”. That’s when my dad’s siblings settled in to hear what Morris had to say, because they knew he knew my dad. He lived life to the fullest and had some regrets, but lived content. You could always tell he was content when he was doing a project because he was either singing or humming. He and my mom both enjoyed a good project and shared countless numbers of them over the years. They wouldn’t stop until it was complete….to the best of their very talented ability…..and in the end it always was.
Morris spoke of the miracles that the Lord had performed in my dad over the last few months of his life. For over a year, my parents had been reading the bible together. My dad would read out loud to my mom. It was amazing that the last chapter he read aloud was John 14, where Jesus talks about going to prepare a place for us. He said “if it were not so, I would’ve told you. “ How divinely fitting for the final word…..actually, it was the first words of my dad’s new life….the new beginning. Jesus left us great hope, in Him, and we’re clinging to Him for life, peace, fulfillment and eternity.
As we finished the service at the gravesite, the Air Force representatives played “Taps” on a bugle. It was pristine. Then they folded up the flag, in perfect unison, and gave it to my mom.
As family began leaving, we drove some to the airport in my dad’s Yukon. The suv had a light come on (a week earlier) that said “traction assist”….which meant it was off. I could tell that was true when I slipped around getting on the interstate on a rainy day. We figured we’d get it checked out after the week was over. It wasn’t raining on that day, so we didn’t worry. After driving 45 minutes to the airport, dropping off family, and driving 15 minutes to downtown New Orleans, the Yukon started making a horrendous grinding noise in the front wheel area. Miraculously, there was an Auto Zone immediately after exiting the interstate. A guy from there drove it around the parking lot and said “Go right away to Firestone and have them look at it. Your ball bearing is messing up and your tire could fall off any minute.” (paraphrased) That was the longest 5 minute drive ever. Fortunately it was only 3 blocks from Auto Zone. The Lord is so good and He proved Himself to be my mom’s husband in this entire situation. As we were pulling into Firestone, we told a guy what our problem was. He hailed down the lead mechanic, who was jumping into his truck to leave, and he came back and test drove the truck. He knew exactly what it was, said it would take a couple of hours and a couple hundred dollars to fix and that it would be ready that day. As he was test driving it, my mom was telling another guy, inside, what the problem was and he said “That’s too extensive, we can’t do that.” And mom said “Well your lead mechanic is test driving it right now and said he can fix it.” If the lead hadn’t been there…. So, the 6 of us hopped on a city bus and went to the French Quarter for a few hours. We had a great lunch and met some other family down there. They gave mom and I a ride back to Firestone and we went and picked up everyone else. If that grinding would’ve started sooner we could’ve been on the side of the road in a mess. The Lord is our provider and He is GOOD.