I went to work and worked all day, decking some halls, walked in around 5, planning to take a shower and go check out Jacks new place. The phone rang and the caller ID was a relative in Magnolia Ark. where Jack's Dad lives. He had just been here on Tuesday to see Jack and it was Jack’s favorite part of the week.
I don’t think I have ever told you Jack’s story, but he was a ward of the county for most of his childhood. When he was in Junior High, his football coach stopped him one day and ask if he would like to come home with him and be a part of their family. Rip Powell was a Junior High Coach with a young family that adopted a boy that had no home. So at age 13, Jack had a family. The hard to explain part became that Jack’s new Dad was only 11 years older than him. He was legally adopted and now had a name to be proud of. He was Rip Powell's son. Anyone that lives in Arkansas knows Rip. He was the head football coach at what I always knew as Southern State but is now Southern Arkansas University, for many years.
Jack became a coach because he wanted to be just like his Dad. And so many times in our lives I have seen him pour into kids lives and I knew he was thinking of all his Dad had done for him. Tonight the call came that his Dad had fallen and had a large bleed on the brain. We are really not sure what happened, but his sweet granddaughter said they were life flighting him to the trauma hospital in our town and had told them he might not survive the flight. Memories of a month ago were happening again. Amanda, Greg and I went straight to the hospital as it would take the family a couple of hours to get here. As we walked in the doctor walked out and said he had coded on the flight, they had gotten a pulse back but he was brain dead. They would try to keep him alive until the family arrived to say their goodbyes. We said ours and knew we needed to go and tell Jack..How would we? How could we? Again, our doctor friend, who was now in Hawaii and had also played for Rip, talked us through what to say to Jack. He thought we should tell him tonight. Again he was right...
Jack was a month out from a stroke and now we had to tell him the man that had changed his life, the man he so loved and was so grateful to, was dead.
We have just returned from telling Jack, all having a good cry but all so thankful that our lives were touched by Raymond Rip Powell. He was/is a legend in the football community. As I am typing this the respiratory people are removing all the life support machines. There is absolutely no sign of any brain activity and Rip would never have wanted to be left on machines. The next few days will be very hard and very sad. Jack is adamant that he must attend the funeral. He even wants to speak. As we left tonight he said "I have always known that someday I would speak at Dad's funeral and tell what he did for me."
If he can't I think Greg can speak for him.
As this holiday season begins we have never been more aware that life can change in a moment, never more aware that life is a gift, never more thankful for each day and never more aware of what REALLY MATTERS.
Our new theme song is LEAN ON Me
Thank you Amanda, Greg, Micah, Dana, Roger, Terri, Marcy, Sheila, Pam, and so many more for being that shoulder to me this past month.