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The Message of Spring, Passover and the Easter Season

This past week is the anniversary of a grueling time for the church I pastor and me. A young lady that has been a part of our ministry for the last 20 years went on to her reward during this time. Two Sundays prior, we had got a call at 7 a.m. that she had been found on the floor of her house, and they could not get a response from her. We were told later that she had suffered a massive stroke.

They don’t know how long she had been on the floor because she lived with her adopted infirm daughter. Her daughter could not walk or talk. Because of a shaken baby incident when she was less then 1, her brain stem had been separated from her spine. This lady adopted her and took care of her like she was her very own. If you asked her, she would say she was her very own. They told her when she adopted her that she may live to be 5 or 6 if everything worked out. The little girl is now 21 years old all because of this woman’s special love for her.

This mother would bring this wonderful girl to our children’s camp where all the kids would do everything to help care for her. The mother was the camp nurse, and she took this special girl with her. I don’t know the medical diagnosis, but in my mind it was the love of this woman that kept this little girl alive.

It reminded me of all the deaths that were suffered in the last year due to Covid-19. It also reminded me of a newspaper clipping from a few years ago. We are told that this is a true story from the Phoenix Times that would help us see the importance of showing love to the very last minute of a loved one’s life.

The 26-year-old mother stared down at her son who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart had to be filled with sadness, she had a strong determination to do something special for her child. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now, that no longer seemed possible. The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted some of her son’s dreams to come true. She took her son’s hand and asked, “Bopsy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grow up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?”

“Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.” Mom smiled back and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.”

Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her 6-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, “Look, we can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at seven o’clock Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform, with a fire toy truck with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, and a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They’re all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast.”

Three days later, Fireman Bob picked up Bopsy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from the hospital. When he came out there was a hook and ladder fire truck waiting to pick him up. Bopsy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He felt like he was in heaven riding on that fire truck. There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Bopsy got to go out on all three calls.

He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedic’s van and even the fire chief’s car. He was also interviewed for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that they lavished upon him, so deeply moved Bopsy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible,

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse who believed in the Hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Bopsy had spent as a fireman, so she called the fire chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Bospy as he made his transition. The chief replied, “We can do better than that in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It’s just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time.”

About five minutes later a hook and ladder fire truck backed up to the hospital, extended its ladder up to Bopsy’s third floor open window and 14 firemen and two firewomen climbed up the ladder into Bopsy’s room.

With his mother’s permission, they hugged him and held him and told him they loved him. With his dying breath, Bopsy looked up at the fire chief and said, “Chief, am I really a fireman now? “Bopsy, you are,” the chief said. With those words, Bopsy smiled and closed his eyes one last time.

My heart breaks for all the men, women, boys, and girls who had to die alone without their families. We thank God for the doctors, nurses, and staff of the hospital that did their best to stand in for the family. We can still learn from Bopsy that it’s never too late to hope for your dream to come true. The wonderful lady I mentioned earlier was named Dora Pitts, her daughter was Missy. It was her dream to keep her alive and she did for her lifetime. Keep looking, keep hoping, and keep believing! Remember like Bopsy, your dreams really can come true. To me, that is what the Easter Season is all about, that even in death there is hope. To those of us who believe in God we have the great hope of life even after death. That death is not the end of the dream, but the beginning of a new one. I still miss our friend, who worked at our church for 20 years. I will also try to do everything for the little girl she left behind. It still not too late for a miracle in her life. I am confident that Dora made her peace with God, no matter how tragic her death; she is smiling on the other side. That is the message of Spring, Passover, and Easter Season.

The Rev. Darrell W. Cummings is pastor of Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Temple in Weirton.

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