Friday, January 6, 2012


Last year about this time I got in the car with my daughter, Kimberly, and granddaughter Elizabeth. We were excited as we headed out for those after Christmas bargains.

Moments later, still my driveway, I burst into tears as they wordlessly comforted me.

What happened to suddenly change my mood? A phone call.

"Let me call Uncle Bert first, girls," I said as I slipped the key into the ignition. His hospice care was wonderful and they knew he was near the end of his battle with cancer. As soon as I heard his weak voice, I knew too.

"You'll be home soon, Bert. I'll see you there. I love you." Those were my last words to my dear big brother. And I knew we'd just spoken our last words on earth. Even now my tears flow as I remember and write about that sacred conversation between this world and the next.

A few days later I was up alone. It was near midnight. The phone rang. The call. My dear niece, Karen, said softly, "Aunt Kathy. He's home." His call. By morning the family was once again in cars, going to Nashville for Bert's funeral. It was a celebration of a godly life lived full throttle for the Lord.

Last week on the phone to Bert's wife, I shed a few tears again as I told her, "Dianne, you know one change Bert's death made in my life?"


"I long for heaven now. Sometimes I don't even feel like I belong here. My tent pegs were loosened."

She asked a very wise question, "Don't you think that's how we should be?"


I knew the last time on earth I was looking at Bert. In that hospital room, I couldn't stop kissing him. I knew on the phone a year ago that I was hearing his voice for the last time here. I couldn't stop crying.

We're not always given notice when death calls. Death impacts people in many ways. When I watch the national news or hear of horrible weather destruction, my mind looks beyond the mayhem. I long for a better place.

Right now the political scene is angry, restless, frightening sometimes, disillusioning most of the time. A phrase from Isaiah comforts me. "The government shall be upon his shoulders." Did you get that? The government shall be upon HIS shoulders! A perfect, loving, just King of kings will rule in peace.

Don't we all long for that?

Sometimes I tease the kids, "I won't be here much longer. You better be nice to me!" Or I might reverse it, "I better be nice to you so you don't push my wheelchair over a cliff!"

They laugh. "Oh, Mama! Stop that. You're not dying."

But I am. We all are. We're in the land of the dying, heading for the land of the living. I understand the phrase "living in the shadowlands" now. And I look forward to living in eternal Light.

Death is not always a morbid thought to me now. Thank you, Bert, for not only showing us how to live, but how to die. As my body ages or health issues come, I pray, "Lord, let them remind me that I was created for another world. Disease or even death is just my vehicle there, unless You return for me. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus."

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One day you'll get the call. Are you ready? He made the way. It's easy. But it's your choice. Here's a GPS through the Romans Road. Clicking here may lead to the most important decision you ever make. This life is your gift to God. Eternal life is God's gift to you. Choose wisely.


  1. The last words in person that Bert said to me as Gwen and I left the hospital in October were, "I'll be waiting for you and I'll have something cooking for you." I wasn't sure at first what he meant, but then I realized he was already anticipating Heaven and my arrival there. On the phone when we talked for the last time, he said, "I love you, little brother. I'll see you."

    Yes, things like this get you a little more excited about leaving the old world behind.


  2. Kathy,

    What a beautiful way to start my birthday (the big 60) -- a heartwarming reminder that something much better lies beyond this temporary shell we live in. Something more peaceful, loving, joyful than we can possibly imagine. Something more free, more awesome, more alive because we will be with the One we love and serve.

    Your big brother Bert lived as if he believed that and died the same way, thus giving others the hope he lived and the peace that warmed his heart.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience of "lasts" with Bert, and for providing the way for others to find that same hope and peace he lived.

    Anonymous (at her request. . .but Happy Birthday, dear YOU!)

  3. Karen Tippett Hampton (Bert's daughter, my dear niece) writes on facebook:

    Aunt Kathy, what a beautiful tribute to Dad. Thank you for sharing. This week has been full of sweet memories. And, yes, heaven is sweeter every day. Love you.

  4. Louanne Stewart writes:

    Thanks for that blog. I needed to hear that! YES - COME LORD JESUS!!

  5. Marun Padgett Green writes:

    Death appears so daunting. When you look at it in this perspective, I have a longing to be there. Thank you for sharing those precious thoughts.

  6. Clara Williams Snipes writes:

    What a beautiful "REAL STORY" with a beautiful picture of you all at the end. Love, prayers and hugs coming your way !! : )

  7. Interesting thoughts. I've got a different perspective. Had a brother that left this earth with no "acknowledged" warning. Just thought we'd see him after the operation. Well, that reunion will now wait until we go to be with him. What can we learn from him? That death is certain and its timing can be uncertain. Live now as if there is no tomorrow: faithful, not recklessly fast, but just stay faithfully by the stuff. I don't need to do more, just what God has for me this day. My brother did that until the very end.
    Part 2: My 94 year old mother. She grieves daily for my brother. She is in an assisted care home. She has one small room, most of her stuff has been sold or given to the kids. She loves God, causes the staff to smile and brings joy to anyone that visits. But in her mind it is not enough to desire to live on. She wants to be in heaven, but God hasn't seen fit to take her. So I wrestle with why mom is still here. My brother-in-law once told me it is because God isn't finished with me taking care of her yet. Maybe so. But my mom gives me cause to pause. What I've learned: no matter how old and disabled (she barely walks) that I have the same assignment as my brother and all of us: just be faithful. So mom faithfully shares her humor and testimony with whomever. Go mom. Go God.