Life has been really interesting the last few weeks. February started off in normal fashion as far as school is concerned. In our personal lives things have been really tough for the Reynolds side of the family. February 4th my father, Alex, was hospitalized for his heart/cancer/other medical problems and he was in the hospital for about a week when he "took a turn for the worse" and my mother called me home from Europe because as she said "If you want to say good bye to your dad, then you should try to come." Really it was the best possible timing for my dad to "get bad". . . .if one can even refer to something like this as good. On the 7th or 8th of this month it seemed that he might not live to see me or my brothers one last time. My mom called me to call me home on Sunday the 10th and I returned to the Chicago area on one of the first flights from Vienna through Amsterdam in the morning of the 11th. I was picked up by a family friend around 1:30 in the afternoon from O'Hare and I was at the hospital by my dad's side by 3:00ish. The flight from Amsterdam to Chicago was very nerve racking because I really had no idea what to expect when I touched down. Would my dad be there? Would he have already passed away? I had no way of knowing.
Well, he was there and in decent spirits considering he was dying. He was very glad to see me (Brian), he was talking, and he was even cracking jokes. This was from Monday through the following Saturday I think . . . the days blur together. Early in the week of February 17th he began to fade. Me and my brothers had already been to see him pretty much every day and I had even slept over in the hospital with him. It was very humbling for me to take care of the man that took care of me when I was younger. He was so helpless to do anything for himself . . . it was an honor to serve . . .
Monday, February 19th I stayed over night with him and he didn't wake at all during the night and didn't eat any breakfast the following morning. This also marked when he stopped talking. It became very difficult for him to breath and talking was done in only a few words and not very audible. I felt so blessed just to be by his side.
I had looked into staying longer and pushing my return flight back, but Orbitz would not allow it without charging an arm and a leg so it was decided that I would leave Bourbonnais between 12-1pm to catch my 4:30 flight. I left my father at the hospital in a spacious double room being taken care of by wonderful hospice people. I made sure that when I left that my dad knew that I loved him and that I, we would be fine when he is gone, that he could leave us in the arms of the same Lord that he was going to be with for eternity. I couldn't have said good bye like this had it not been for something that happened the day I got to Illinois and the hospital. I wrote the following for my dad to be read at the memorial service in my absence.
Written by Brian for his dad – February 22, 2008
To be read at the Alex’s memorial service on February 25, 2008
I finally arrived in Chicago. Boy oh boy, that was a long flight. At least the layover wasn’t too bad. I know what I want to say now; it’s on the tip of my tongue. … Now, how to say it? I still don’t know if I can. I want to ask you because I love you, but how? I need to be reassured - do you really believe?
Finally the time came that I was all alone with you, sitting by your side. . . . Can I ask you now? … No, wait, my grandpa is walking in. Somehow grandpa knows what I want to do. My grandpa asks you, “Can we pray for you Alex?” You reply with a nod, we can. My throat tightens, I can’t speak … but I don’t even know why. Grandpa started, “Alex, the Bible says ‘If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you are saved.’ That’s it . . . do you believe that?” You promptly said with labored breaths, “yes, I do.” Emphatically my grandpa and I rejoiced in praise to our Father in heaven! Immediately the tightness in my throat was gone and I was at peace . . . you did believe - Jesus was in your heart.
My Dad believed!
Maybe you didn’t always show it, but deep in your heart you believed. It was only a week and some days later that I received the call that you went to be with Jesus. Even now I remember lots of things about you. You weren’t perfect but then again, none of us are. But, that isn’t the point; it’s remembering that when it’s all said and done, Jesus is the only perfect one and He is the one that matters.
I love you, Dad. We all love you.