A City Without Night!

A City Without Night

A City Without Night!

My mom was knocking at the door with a message. Melinda’s mother had just called to tell us that her dad was going into the hospital the next day. He was scheduled for an emergency surgery.

It was April 14, 1982. Mike had been sick for several weeks. We all thought he was sick with the flu. Now he was suffering pain that was so bad that he finally agreed to go to the doctor. He realized what he was experiencing had to be more than just the flu.

It took the doctor awhile to find the tumor that was growing in the small intestines above his colon. They felt if they operated right away they could get it before it caused any more damage or problems.

We were fortunate that we had just been paid. We were able to throw some clothes together, get the kids in the car. We headed out for Paradise, California, 250 miles away, where Melinda’s parents were living at the time.

By the time we arrived in Paradise Mike was out of surgery. Melinda’s brother Mike Jr. and her sister Michelle were already there. Everyone was gathered in Mike’s hospital room and all seemed to be in good spirits.

Upon our arrival everyone go excited. This was grandma and grandpa’s first introduction to their youngest granddaughter, Abigail Joy Doran. Abby was only two months old. She had not yet met her grandparents. Grandpa had been sick and unable to come and see her. We had not been able to make it over to their place, either.

The doctor reports came back fine. The doctors said within a few weeks Mike should feel better. He would be back on his feet in no time, or so it seemed.

When he came home from the hospital, my parents came over from Rio Dell to visit their old friends. Theirs was a friendship that went back to 1963 when my father baptized Mike in Jesus Name in Fresno, California.

The Power family had moved to Rio Dell in 1966. Through the years a close relationship had grown as Mike became the Assistant Pastor and worked in the church in Rio Dell for 13 years.

Then the relationship became even closer when Melinda and I brought the families together with our marriage. Of course, sharing grandchildren helped a great deal, also.

Mike called Dad in for a private conference. When they were finished talking, Mike called Margie in to talk with them. They then told us that he and Margie had decided they wanted to move back home to Rio Dell. They felt it was something they needed to do.

Melinda and I were very excited. She had not been around her parents very much at all since we had been married. We had moved, on our wedding night, to Roseburg, Oregon. Two days after we moved back to Rio Dell, her mom and dad had moved to Paradise because of a job transfer. Now we were all going to be together again.

I was excited to have Brother and Sister Power moving back for my own reasons. As we were growing up, they had been like a second family to us. Mike had been like a second father in many ways.

Mike had been good to take us swimming, hiking, or to play ball when we were growing up. He had been our Sunday school teacher for many years. He and I had started preaching together. We had even both went to the District Board together to get our Local license.

We had a very good friendship that went beyond that of a father-in-law and a son-in-law relationship. We were very close friends. We had enjoyed a lot of experiences together.

Melinda and I went home with my dad to get our house ready for our guests. They would stay with us for a few weeks while Mike was recovering. Then they could get a place of their own. I would return in a couple of weeks with my brother David and a truck to move them and their furniture over to Rio Dell.

Mike and Margie moved home the first week of May. One of the first things that we did was to call our family doctor, Dr. Mason. We made arrangements for Mike to start seeing him. He had an appointment right away.

I went with them for the first visit, just to lend some moral support. Dr. Mason just basically went over the medical records and then called us in to his office to talk with us.

I know that I was not prepared for the news that awaited us. According to the reports, from the doctor who had performed the surgery, the tumor was cancerous and the cancer was spreading. Basically what Dr. Mason told us was that the other doctor had lied. Although he didn‘t use that word. It didn’t look like things were going to be all right after all.

We were stunned! How could this be? Mike was only forty-three years old. He was a strong healthy man who had never been sick in his life. It just didn’t seem right.

This began a series of tests, treatments, hospital stays. There was more bad news from the specialists. The cancer was in the liver area. This was not good.

I spent many hours sitting by the hospital bed that we had set up in our front bedroom, talking with Mike. We talked of the “good ole days” laughing together. Sometimes we would shed a tear or two.

We talked about hunting and fishing. Mike had gone bow hunting the past year and had shot his first buck. He was so excited and proud. He wanted to take me out with him that next season.

We talked about his grandchildren. Melinda and I had a son, Justin who was two years old. We also had Abby, was just a few months old. Michelle had twins Michael and Maureen who were one year old. Mike was so proud of them; they were so beautiful and precious.

We had two dogs, one was an old beagle named Fred and the other was a pug named Pam. I knew we were going to have to get rid of the beagle because he was so old and grumpy that Justin couldn’t play with him. Mike called me in one day and told me that I needed to get Justin a “real boy’s dog” because the pug wasn’t a dog that a boy could really enjoy. “Every boy needs a good dog to grow up with,” he said.

We also spent a lot of time talking about our favorite subject, the Bible. Mike was one of the most knowledgeable men I have ever met, when it came to the Bible. We loved to just talk.

He was in a lot of pain and was having lots of side effects from the medications they were giving him for the pain. We watched as he became weaker every day.

It became my lot to be the one to tell Mike Jr. and Michelle, Melinda’s brother and sister, the doctor’s report. Their father didn’t have long to live. The cancer had attacked the liver and was spreading throughout his body. We were not talking years or months. We were talking about just a few weeks and days.

I will never forget the phone call I made late that night to tell Michelle her dad was not going to get better. In fact it looked like he was going to die very soon. I hurt so badly for her.

I will never forget standing in the back bedroom of our house, with Mike Jr. and telling this twenty one year old young man that he was losing his dad and his best friend. I wept with him. I could feel his pain, fear and loss.

No, I will never forget holding my twenty year old wife in my arms and feeling her body heave with sobs as she cried her heart out. What could I say? The words just didn’t sound right. At the same time, I just wanted to find my own place and cry too. I was losing one of my best friends.

I saw the despair, the fear, the weariness that was written on Margie’s face as she tried to keep up a brave front. She tried hard to be strong for Mike and the kids. Trying to understand why and keep her faith.

I was awakened early one morning by Mike, standing at my bedroom door. He asked would I pray with him. He was having nightmares. They were the result of the morphine they were giving him for the pain. He was still hurting; he was in a lot of pain.

I got up and spent several hours with him in prayer. I both prayed for him and then with him. Finally he was able to return to sleep and seemed to rest for awhile.

It was now my turn. I fell on my face before the Lord and began to lay my questions before him. Why? Mike was a godly man. He was faithful. Why? He was so young, only forty-three years old? Why was this happening?

In prayer, during those early dark hours of the morning, the Lord impressed two passages of scripture to my mind. I felt that I should share these with Mike. They would be sure to encourage him in these dark hours, just as they had me.

I had to leave, to go to a seminar, so I wrote them out on a slip of paper. I left it in a place where it could be found. Then I forgot all about giving it to him until months later.

Mike lived three months after his surgery. It seemed there was no time for anyone to get ready for what was happening. We were still in shock from the surgery when he died. We were not ready at all!

At his funeral we worshipped, just as he would have had us do. We sang congregational songs of heaven, his favorites. The specials were songs that he loved and shared his feelings about life and his relationship with the Lord.

We then came home and tried to sort it out. Why? How do we deal with this? We wept!

It was somewhere during this time, as we were sorting through some of Mike’s things, Melinda looked in his wallet. Tucked inside, folded nice and neat, was a piece of paper. Wondering, she opened it up and began to read. With a puzzled look, she asked me, “Did you write this?”

Not knowing what “this” was, I asked if I could see it. She handed me the paper and I began to read, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the LORD and he delighteth in his way… I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken…” Psalms 37:23-25

This passage was followed by, “For His anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5.

They were the scriptures the Lord had given me weeks before while in prayer. Mike had carried them in his pocket, holding on to the assurance that the Lord had everything under control.

While in this time of sorrow, this time of uncertainty, God had let us know, once again that He is in control. He loves us and is watching every step that we take.

In my minds eye I could see Mike in heaven. I could hear his deep baritone singing one of his favorite songs that says, “There’s a country far beyond the starry skies. There’s a city where there never comes a night. If we’re faithful we shall go there by and by. It’s that city where the lamb is the light.”

Several times, through the years, we have pulled out Mike’s wallet. We have opened it up and read again the note that was written in a time of darkness. It was a word, written by inspiration from God. A word from our Savior that, once again, led me to understand…

“…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

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