I have to admit this up front--I'm not too good at expressing myself with
strong emotions involved without becoming pretty.......sappy. The
feelings and thoughts expressed here are genuine though and I wanted to
share just a little bit about my dad with you all.
His name was Charles James Laney but he was known as James or Jim to most
everybody who knew him. A long time ago, a few even called him Charlie.
To me and my siblings, he was Daddy until we got too old for such a term of endearment so was then known as Dad. Dad went home to be with Jesus on June 28th, 2004. His family and friends will never be able to fill the hole that he left in this world but we still rejoice for him. Any sadness we feel at his passing is purely selfish, believe me.
I had just walked in the door from my first day and only day as it turned
out, of teaching Vacation Bible School at our church. The answering machine
was flashing that it held 8 messages so I knew something was up. A quick
glance at the caller ID's while I hit the play button forewarned me that it
wasn't going to be happy messages-all of the calls were from my brother and
two sisters. Dad had been going downhill pretty fast after his foot was
amputated a couple of months before due to diabetes complications. He had
been in the hospital for several days and though back in ICU (after a short
time on a regular floor) we were hopeful that he would be home in a few
days. He was to be fitted with his prosthetic foot a few days later. God had
other plans for dad though and called him home. The worst part for me upon
hearing that he had died was that he was alone. No family had been there
because he had turned bad so suddenly that there wasn't time to get anyone
called. My mom, acting on intuition had called to check on him when she woke
up that morning. The nurse was unusually candid and told her he wasn't doing
well at all. Mom got my sister and brother-in-law rounded up and they were
getting ready to make the drive to the hospital when they received the call
that he was gone. This made me so sad until God gently reminded me-he was
NOT alone. God had angels stationed in that ICU room ready to escort him
home the moment his heart stopped beating. That thought comforts me like no
words ever can.
Ernie and I flew out to Arkansas Wednesday morning. We weren't too sure that
we wouldn't get off the plane to news that something had happened to Mom.
She has told us for years that if dad ever went first, to expect her to go
quickly behind him and she sincerely meant this. She has often told us of
how a much loved Aunt and Uncle from her youth died within 3 hours of each
other. They had been married for 50 years and though childless, had served
as surrogate grandparents for my mom and her siblings. She adored them and
was heart broken by their deaths. Mom and dad had celebrated their 57th
wedding anniversary just a couple of weeks before dad died so we didn't know
what to expect when we stepped off of the plane. So far, she is doing fairly
well. Of course she has her moments and is very sad and lonely for dad but
is in good health. She is in the early stages of Alzheimer's so gets
confused and is easily caught in loops, telling the same stories over and
over but can be quickly led on to other topics so far. She is still living
with my sister and brother-in-law and involved in neighborhood coming and
goings so that will help occupy her.
The next couple of days after we arrived would bring many relatives and
friends home. I saw cousins and an Uncle that I had not seen in over 30
years! It was a fantastic reunion. Dad would have enjoyed it so much. I
got to visit with old friends, such as Charlie Arnce whom I hadn't seen in
years. Dad had "adopted" Charlie many years ago when they worked together in
Neosho, Missouri at Teledyne. We made sure that Charlie and his wife Ellen
sat with family during the funeral. He was as devastated by the loss as the
rest of us. We did have a good laugh though. I would have sworn I heard
several years ago that one of Charlie's younger twin brothers had died and
asked if it was Bob or Don. Imagine my embarrassment and delight when he
informed me that neither had died! I'm so pleased for all of them. \o/
During our visit, one of my nieces informed me that she always
looked forward to my visits home because I'm fun and that she wishes I lived
closer. That's the nicest thing that anyone has said about or to me in a
very long time and I was almost speechless which is a true wonder! I have
encouraged her to grab my sister next summer and make a Thelma and Louise
trip out to North Carolina-but please skip the violence and the trip over a
We all went to the funeral home for the family viewing the afternoon before
the funeral. Dad looked so peaceful and natural. It was very hard on all of
us to be there but we tried to handle it gracefully as he would have wanted.
Dad was a great believer so we had no reason to grieve for him, just
Ernie, who was my tower of strength and my brother-in-law Chuck went
back for the public viewing that evening and Ernie was struck by what
a well respected man my dad was. He said nurses and a doctor
from the dialysis clinic came for the viewing and all told him what a
special man dad was. He was a popular patient with all of them because he
was always happy and never complained in spite of the (at least) 4 hours he
had spent every Monday, Wednesday and Friday being hooked up to machines. He
never said a negative word to any of them and was always a wonderful
witness. The husband of another patient also stopped by for the visitation
and told Ernie that he was going to try and assure that some kind of
memorial plaque is placed at the clinic in dad's honor. Ernie always knew
that dad was a nice Christian man but was surprised and awed by the
outpouring of love for him.
The funeral was Friday and we woke up to absolutely horrible weather. It was
raining very hard, thunder was booming and lightening was flashing. The
cemetery is way out in the country and we knew it would be a huge mess if it
went on for too long. Ernie and I stopped at Wal Mart on the way from our
hotel out to my sister's to buy umbrellas since we hadn't brought any with
us. Many of us, including Bob, dad's Christian home health nurse gathered at
my sister's house and left for the church together. Before leaving, I asked
a few others to join me in prayers that the nasty weather would take a break
long enough for us to make that trip from the church. We arrived at the
church to find many old friends attending. It was a hard jolt to see the
hearse sitting in the driveway. I felt as if I had been moving in a fog for
the past several days and would wake up to find it all a dream but this made
it all real at last.
Their minister delivered a very hard hitting and bible based sermon for
those of us in attendance, reminding all that they had a choice to make
while there's still time. We all have to choose whether to serve God and
spend eternity with Him or choose the world and be lost for all of eternity.
He too had such respect for my dad, even though he had only known him since
December. He told us that he had visited on several occasions with dad while
in the hospital and even during his dialysis trips and that dad never failed
to say "I love you Preacher" as he left. He left no doubt that dad had made
his choice. What the preacher may not have known was that dad made that
choice many, many years ago. My grandmother told me a story once of how dad,
the oldest of seven kids, would stand on a stump and "preach" from the bible
to his next oldest brother.
The thunder and rain continued throughout the sermon. We continued to pray
for a break as the viewing began and as it continued. God is awesome and
faithful and He never ceases to prove this because as the viewing ended the
rain, thunder and lightening ALL stopped at once! Not a drop fell from the
sky as they wheeled the casket to the door for loading into the hearse. It
was a moment that few failed to notice. \o/
We had a sad drive to the cemetery, all realizing that this made it all
final. Ernie had mentioned a day before that we should have arranged an
honor guard for the funeral since he was a WWII vet, serving on the USS
Tennessee but it was too late by that point to arrange. We were delighted to
see just that when we arrived! There stood seven men in honor guard uniform,
lining the drive. One of my nephews had arranged it and we're so thankful!
All were older and this meant so very much to us as they were from his era.
They saluted his casket as the Pall Bearers carried it to graveside. This
almost undid me and I'm crying again as I recall that incredibly proud
moment. One of the gentlemen spoke briefly about dad being a hero from WWII
then told my mom to brace herself that the 7 honor guards were going to
shoot 3 times each, representing a 21Gun Salute. I didn't know it was
possible to feel any more proud of my dad than I already did but found that
it was possible. They then presented mom with the folded flag and several
spent shells. Ernie and I proudly carried it home with us on the plane,
cradled by one of us all the way, so that he can make a display case for
mom. A lady on the plane was talking to someone else about how proud she is
of her son who is serving in Afghanistan. She asked about the flag,
wondering if we had family there too. I explained that my dad had died and
that it had been presented by the color guard at the funeral. She wasn't
sure what to say other than that she was sorry for our loss. I pray for her
son's safety in return.
We returned to the church following the cemetery for a fellowship period.
They apparently have a committee that takes care of such meals and had a
wonderful meal prepared with tables and places all set. It was a wonderful
opportunity to visit some more with friends and relatives that we know we
won't see again for a long time if ever. We'll be forever grateful to the
ladies of the church for this service.
We will always miss and love you dad! Even while we grieve though, we
rejoice that you are once again reunited with all of our grandparents, both
of your sisters, Uncle Elwood and more friends and family than can be named
here. If heaven is as we expect then we trust that you're busy visiting,
helping others as you were always known to do and fishing with Granddaddy
once again. We've no doubt that God was well pleased with your service on
Dedicated to Charles James "Jim" Laney, born June 6, 1925 deceased June 28,
2004, an awesome Christian man who is now whole and well, living with our
Lord for evermore. \o/
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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