Tag Archive: death


Picture taken at the last show of mine Sam got to see.

Our next door neighbors, Richard and Dottie Powell, lived there long before Cyndy and I moved in with our sons thirteen years ago. They’ve known Cyndy since she was born. Richard has had health problems for a number of years. He passed away a week and a half ago. They were able to have a funeral, but with limited attendees and grave site visitors, leaving others to mourn at home unable to attend. Which was just one of the many unrelated deaths during the pandemic that is/was not given the funeral or memorial service they deserve(d).

Our friends, Sam and Sally Shank – brother and sister – retired and bought a house together in Colorado. They’ve had a chance to travel in the past year and were settling in after living there only a couple of years. Sam had some tests done recently and was waiting on the results. They were regular tests and there were no alarms.

Sunday afternoon, I came back from an essential errand. I opened the front door and thought I heard Cyndy holler – at me I thought. But I had just walked in. She had her headphones on and was talking to Sally on the phone. I came in late in the conversation and had no idea what they were talking about. It sounded like a normal conversation between the two. I wasn’t really listening anyway. Cyndy was talking loud.

When the conversation ended, Cyndy came into the den where I was working at my desk and stood looking at me. I looked up and she told me Sam had passed away late Saturday night. He was only 68 and, like I say, there were no alarms. The coroner thought it looked like a heart attack.

Sally’s sight is not the best. Cyndy and I will do everything we can to help. Our boys call her Aunt Sally. When they release Sam’s body, he’ll be sent back to Ft. Worth for burial. The graveside service will be small enough to fit the restrictions.

But Sam shouldn’t have left so early. I’m going to miss liking his posts on Facebook, and getting messages from him. Cyndy and I were planning to visit them in May. One of the songs Conner and I did the music video of in the hotel in Iowa is Foxes in the Henhouse. I’ve been trying to play it for him since I wrote it. I haven’t been playing it in my live show. I was going to post it and tag him. Now I’ll post the video and dedicate it to him. He would really appreciate the song. And I’ll be thinking of him.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Aunt Juanita’s funeral was last week. I wrote about my uncle, Jack,  in a post when he died the first week in April.  Our son, Cameron, took this picture of Aunt Juanita at Jack’s funeral with the flag from his casket. After he took the picture, I told her I would come to see her soon. But I never got the chance.

A couple of days later, she stumbled and fell. No bones were broken, but we think she had at least one mini stroke. She became bed-ridden shortly after that. She was coherent some of the time, but she had to be fed and helped by a nurse. It was not long before she could no longer walk to the bathroom by herself. I wanted to go see her, but I was not sure if she would recognize me or be able to have a conversation.

It has been hard on Dad, watching his oldest sister deteriorate. He did not want her to linger if she no longer had her faculties. A couple of weeks after Jack’s funeral, Dad called her to talk about getting things in order pertaining to Jack’s will. At the end of the conversation, Juanita said she wanted to ask Dad something.

“Where’s Jack? Is Jack dead?”

Unfortunately, she did linger after that. From what my parents have told me, they never knew if Juanita would know who they were when they visited on Wednesdays. Sometimes she was coherent and other times she seemed to not have a clue. Which was doubly hard on Dad. He and I talked about praying for her and not knowing what to pray for. We simply prayed that God’s will be done.

Two weekends ago we got the call from Mom that Juanita had passed away. Well, not so much passed away as simply went to be with Jack. They were married for 68 years. When Jack  died, the thought was in the back of all our minds that she might not be able to live without him. Though she said before Jack died that she wanted to try to live alone if he died first.

Naturally, I’ve been recalling memories of Jack and Juanita. They were a natural pair – deeply in love, and devoutly Christian. I think she was re-living their marriage the whole time and her body just had not given up yet. On some level she wanted to keep going, but the urge to be with Jack was just too strong.

There is something sweet and precious about a love that is so strong that the couple cannot be separated for very long. But, at the same time, there is something rather tragic about it.

Peace be with you.

This has been one of those “fortunately…unfortunately” sort of weeks. Yesterday was the most significant of the unfortunate days. I received the news that my uncle, Jack Robertson, passed away in his sleep Friday night. Jack was the last living uncle on either side of the family and was my uncle on my father’s side through his marriage to my aunt Juanita.

One of the first things I thought of as my mother filled me in on the situation, was how Jack would tie my shoelaces, and/or my brother, Dennis’, shoelaces, on family occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. He would sneak up behind our chairs while someone distracted us. When we got up to go to the bathroom, sort presents or the like, we began to take a step and fell flat on our face. Which, to our dismay, everyone found amusing.

Jack was in the Navy during World War II. He and Juanita never had any children, but they always enjoyed entertaining Dennis and myself when we were younger, then my daughter, Jennifer, and then our three boys when they were little. As the boys grew older, Jack’s health deteriorated to the point to where he was confined to a wheelchair. My father helps them manage their affairs, including hiring a caregiver when Juanita could no longer care for Jack herself.

Juanita fell Friday morning and Dad went over to help get her to the hospital. While we were at J.D.’s baseball game Friday afternoon he talked to the doctor. Juanita had some bruising, but no bones were broken. Since being confined to a wheelchair, Jack has felt bad that Juanita had to care for him and he could not take care of her. Juanita’s fall was too much strain for him and he went quietly in the night. Rest in peace, Uncle Jack.

Peace be with you.

Grief and the Presence of God is a Bible study using the book of Job with observations from C.S. Lewis and my own experiences. Originally written for use in a Sunday school, I recently revised it. The study is in three parts, with study questions in the back for each lesson.

Lesson one, Grief and It’s Symptoms, delves into the symptoms and resulting effects of the grieving process. The Book of Job certainly has a lot to say about grief and it’s effects. As I mention in the study, Job is probably the only person in the history of the world – with the exception of Jesus (and he knew what his mission was) – who can truthfully tell someone that they do not know how he feels.

Lesson two, Meanwhile, Where is God?, discusses what is arguably the most destructive symptom of grief – when you think God is not around when you need him. When one is grieving, being told that the departed loved one is in God’s hands is little comfort when one considers that they were in God’s hands even as they were on the road to death. It is even more disconcerting if the death was slow and painful.

Lesson three, Alone into the Alone, is concerned with Lewis’ Cosmic Sadist theory and what I consider to be the myth of closure. Whether you agree or disagree with Lewis’ theory or my own theory of closure, you will come to your own conclusion and perhaps progress further in your spiritual journey. After which you will hopefully be better equipped to face times of grief in the future.

Grief and the Presence of God is available in the bookstore at www.danroark.com.

Peace be with you.

I had the misfortune a few days ago of witnessing the vehicular death of a dog. I was in the far right lane at about 9:30 p.m. A pickup truck was just barely ahead of me in the center lane. The dog suddenly bounded out of the easement between backyards, running full tilt. I’m not very good at dog breeds – particularly in headlights on a dark night – but it was a larger dog, like a Greyhound or Doberman. I had my foot on the break before the dog reached the curb. He was running so fast I barely had time to react other than slowing down. I had not even come to a full stop before he entered the center lane without breaking stride.

There seemed to be a moment when everything was deathly quiet and nothing moved – just before the contact of truck and dog. It appeared to me as if neither the dog nor the driver saw the other coming. The dog seemed to be staring straight ahead as if he were on some type of mission. I have no idea how long it actually took – it appeared in slow motion to me. I will not go into much further detail other than to say that the impact was quite loud, the dog fell quickly, and one of the truck’s tires came up off the road.

I cannot get the scene out of my head – I certainly do not want to put it into yours. I kept coasting along, not wanting to believe what I had seen. The truck kept going, but slowed down, pulling over to make a u-turn. As I continued driving I wondered if there were something I should be doing. The same thing I would feel if I had witnessed an accident between two cars.

But there was no need to be a corroborating witness. It was easy to understand what happened. I had already had a glimpse of the dog after the accident and had no desire for a closer look. Yet as the accident kept replaying in my mind, I had the insistent sense that there was something I should do. So as I continued driving with moist eyes, I prayed for the dog and his owner(s).

I had another stop that I made quickly, without looking anyone in the eye. The accident kept playing in my mind – a bizarre drive-in movie with no concession call. I am not a “real men do not cry” type of guy, yet at the same time I do my best to keep people from noticing. But by the time I walked in the door when I arrived home, I was sobbing somewhat uncontrollably. I walked straight past my suddenly confused family out the back door and paced back and forth until the sobs subsided.

I have had several dogs that died. But I did not see any of them get hit by a vehicle. Every feeling I have ever had when a pet died came rushing back in a flurry of raw emotions. Along with the inevitable flash reflections on the finality of death and our lack of control of the situation.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.

So I prayed as I paced in the backyard. Then I went inside and hugged our dog. To do otherwise would indeed have been a chasing after wind.

Peace be with you.

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