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John shows up twice, in the middle of God’s planting season

by davesandel on November 25th, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021                                   (today’s lectionary)

Thanksgiving Day

Dad died on Thanksgiving Day, 2002

John shows up twice, in the middle of God’s planting season

My parents built their house in 1976, and set it on the foundation of another house. My Sandel grandparents moved into that house in 1948. Bill and Dora Sandel lifted the house up on jacks and dug out a basement, a firm foundation with two special rooms, one for coal and one for canned goods to tide them over through winter into spring.

Ever since they finished their beautiful new home in 1976 Mom and Dad slept in the master bedroom at the south end, where Grandma’s kitchen once had been. They closed their curtains at night and opened them in the morning. Dad slept on the right and Mom slept on the left, just as they stood up for their wedding in 1949.

Some men rushed into the upper chamber of Daniel’s home and found him praying and pleading before his God.

By 2002, when he was eighty years old, Dad had been diagnosed with ALS and was in hospice-at-home. Sometime during the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, he got up to use the bathroom and fell on his way back to bed. He had a stroke. Mom called her son John to come and help. John lived then, and still lives, in the house a mile away, where we three kids had all grown up. John came and helped Dad back into bed. He didn’t appear to be conscious, he was breathing, but a few hours later he died.

Now then, in 2021 on November 10, 18 years, 11 months and a couple of weeks later, Mom falls on her way back from the bathroom and pushes her lifeline button. From his home a mile away, John comes and helps her back into bed. Same bedroom, other side of the same bed. She’s fine. After awhile, John goes home. But not for long. He can’t sleep, comes back, sits in the family room and dozes off.

The king returned to his palace for the night and refused to eat. He dismissed the entertainers. Sleep was impossible for him, so he rose very early the next morning and hastened to the lion’s den.

Mom falls out of bed and pushes the lifeline button again. Before that night she had never fallen out of bed. John comes back into her room and sits with her on the floor, because she has become too limp, and too heavy, to move. Even as he’s with her, she pushes the lifeline button over and over. They sit there together, but Mom is losing consciousness. John tells Mom she can go to be with Jesus. In that last sweet moment, on the left side of the same bed in the same room Mom has slept in for forty-five years, she does just that. She passes … away.

Reverence and fear the living God, enduring forever, whose Kingdom shall not be destroyed, whose dominion will have no end. He is a deliverer and a savior, working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.

On this Thanksgiving Day the reverberations of those parallel moments in eternity make me reel with awe. Heaven’s bells ring and ring, the nine tailors now for Mom, and then for Dad, and always for us all, as Rev. Donne reminds. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

No man is an island. Every man is a piece of the continent … John has mixed feelings about his experiences. Pain and privilege. He will never forget those moments, first on Dad’s side of the bed, and then almost 20 years later, on Mom’s side. Lifting their weary, withered bodies up in his strong arms, holding them, feeling their breath on his cheek, wondering if they will open their eyes and see that he is there …

My spiritual director Deb wondered aloud on Tuesday: Did John catch a glimpse of what Mom and Dad were seeing in those last moments of their lives? Our Heavenly Father was sowing new seeds of his love all over the bodies of Mom and Dad as they died. Did some of those precious seeds fall on John? In his own heart, prepared with God’s careful love and affection when John was born, did a simple seed of love fall down, settle, and begin to grow?

They will see! The Son of Man will come in a cloud with power and glory, and as these signs begin to happen, stand erect. Raise your heads! Because your redemption is at hand.

John, who has suffered himself in so many ways, laughs and smiles with freedom born deep within. John has always been a man of lovingkindness. His soil was ready to receive a brand new seed. I think Deb was on to something. And I for one, on this 72nd Thanksgiving Day of my own life, am thankful.


(Daniel 6, Daniel 3, Luke 21)

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  1. John Sandel permalink

    Well, you wanted the corrections. When Dad died, Israel helped me get him back in bed. He was totally out and limp. When Mom died, she was unable to walk and fell out of bed. She pushed the life line constantly then. I managed to get her back in bed, but she was very distressed and didn’t want me to leave. I called Mary Kay and she told me to give her some calming pills. I was there from 1:30 – 5 :30. At 5:30 , she had calmed down and was sleeping. So I went home to sleep a few hours, as Hospice was coming at 9 to put her in Hospice. At 8, I got another lifeline call. She’d fallen out of bed again and was limp as a wet noddle. I tried to get her in bed but was unable. I set her up against a chair and went to deal with lifeline before they sent someone out. When I got back, she had fell backwards and was completely unconscious. I called Mary, but it was too late. I told her, to go be with Jesus, Mom. Israel was on his way to help me, once again. All that day, she was saying she was going to die. Shannon and her family came and visited her and she seemed better. Israel and his family wanted to come too, but I told him, I thought she was better. That my brother, is the rest of the story. Love you, John

    • davesandel permalink

      Wow, John! Thank you so much. My story isn’t exactly fiction, but it sure wasn’t complete. Especially your son and daughter, so much a part, that were so involved as well. Your family is so precious. Happy Thanksgiving!

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