"Why hello there young man"... the prematurely old man sat interestedly up in bed to shake my hand as I approached the side of the hospital bed, seemingly enormous in relation to the diminutive patient. The bed was positioned in the old trailer house beside several large windows in the living room, allowing Jim to look out and see the day from the vantage point of his deck. The morning was young yet, the birds singing in the clear Alabama air as the sun beamed down on the budding trees of the awakening city. Jim was still in the white gown he had passed the night in, sleeping when he could, but this could not keep him from enjoying the gift of my visit. I hadn't seen Jim for almost a year, and although I had heard he was failing, I wasn't aware just how far he had fallen. I sat down in the chair next to Jim's bed and chatted with him for a while. "How've ya been doin Ben?" he slurred with a smile, I strained to make out the words... "I'm a little down of late... but one day at a time... one day at a time". I laughed in spite of myself as I agreed with him- he smiled as his daughter came in behind me to see if he needed anything. I got up to give them some privacy as Jim needed to "use the washroom", though he could not leave the bed... I walked into the adjacent room and looked around at the relics of a life gone by. A gun cabinet with several fine old specimens bearing witness to happier times, fall duck hunts, camouflage, and long walks through the woods. An old motorized wheel chair sits unused in the corner... It's previous inhabitant long beyond it's help. I swallowed back a lump in my throat as I turned at the sound of Jim's voice... "You like my guns there?" He asked with obvious pride in his voice, I responded quickly that indeed I did, I didn't need to be in the room with him to see the smile on his face. At his daughter's cue, I re-entered the room to be again at Jim's side, I faked past my ignorance as I began talking to him about the firearms. He became animated, telling me stories of where each gun came from, the trips they'd been on while using them. How this child learned to shoot on that gun, and that daughter got her first deer with this gun... he went on, looking off into the distance as his eyes misted over while talking of the "good old days"... how the Lord had been good to him, so many memories. We talked about hunting, about family, about what's important... We talked as though there were still many deer seasons ahead, many trails to hike, many springs to feel the warmth of the new sun on our shoulders as we walked beneath the cloudless sky. I remember when I first met Jim, years ago when he still could drive his big red dodge pickup truck, traveling around with his wife, just enjoying their later years together. Jim was never a big man, though if his character and attitude and zest for living were the only measurement he'd be a giant. I remember when I and my brothers were visiting to help my uncle build a deck, Jim was right there "supervising", until he'd get tired enough to need to go back and sit down. I remember the tender love in Jim's eyes when his granddaughters would come near, the spark of humor that was always present, the love for His Lord that had grown so strong in his later years. Suddenly I was taken back to reality, and the fact that I needed to go, my time to visit was short, and I had more people to see in the time I was allotted. I held Jim's hand for a moment as I bid him goodbye, "Good luck and God bless", he said with conviction... "come back and see us some time... there are good days ahead". I smiled as I agreed with him and walked out the door as he watched me out the window. As I felt the fresh spring breeze and the sun on my shoulders I thought again about the indomitability of the human spirit liberated by grace, the limitless joy of a man who in spite of the unfairness of life, faced each day with an attitude brought about by a faith in the One who cares most. I smiled to myself as I walked on, indeed Jim, there are good days ahead. ~Jim Robinson passed from this earth to the embrace of his Saviour on the afternoon of April 5th, 2004 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He left a loving wife, several children (including my Aunt Tina, who is married to my Uncle Sam, my mom's brother), and grandchildren, and countless others influenced and inspired by his life. We have no guarentees friends, no promises of tomorrow. Are you ready? If you haven't already, trust the One who can make you free... as Jim is today.
Grace and peace,
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