John Leroy Simmons, 1928-2005

Exactly a week ago today my husband's father died. I've been pondering a more poetic way to say that but I failed. Mr. Simmons had been very sick as of late and we moved him into a nice assisted living facility right around the corner from our apartment. Johnny arrived home last Wednesday night very sad; he visited his Dad on the way home and realized his health was fast declining. Johnny didn't think his Dad would live past Christmas. We sat in the dark hugging each other at a loss for words. The next morning Johnny checked on his Dad to make sure he got his breakfast and found only his body.

Last Thursday was a hard day, especially for Johnny. However, the first thing he did upon finding his Dad was to pray. He prayed thanksgiving, for you see, in the past few months John Leroy Simmons believed the Gospel: believed Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He died for our sins, rose again, and is now alive - the King. Johnny and I both thanked God that very day of Mr. Simmons' death - though we missed him, he was suffering no more and now with Jesus. We prayed for him many times and are in awe of God's mercy to Johnny's Dad.

My only remaining sadness tonight is that I was hoping to know my father-in-law much better, him living right around the corner and all. The last time I saw him was this past Sunday afternoon. He was depressed and Johnny and I encouraged him together. We brought him a Cold Stone Creamery French vanilla milkshake and prayed with him. I coerced him into allowing me to barely open the blinds so sunlight could peek in his room. He told me to look in his dresser to see his Air Force medal and his deceased brother Gerald's Air Force medal and Purple Heart. He also let me look through an old stack of pictures. Images of Mr. Simmons' younger self look handsomely like my husband. They have the same eyes. When Johnny and I left I waved goodbye to Mr. Simmons and said, "I will see you again very soon." He smiled and said, "I hope so. You and Johnny are bright spots to my day."

Even in our sorrow Johnny and I cannot cease to give thanks. Johnny and his Dad spent the past several months together talking, Johnny sharing the Gospel and serving his Dad, and they both worked through past disputes and completely reconciled their differences. Our two main prayers - salvation and reconciliation - were graciously answered by God. Tomorrow is Mr. Simmons' funeral. It will be a lovely and simple service led by our priest, Rusty, at Houston National Cemetery. An American flag will be folded atop the casket and we will praise God for John Leroy Simmons and honor his service to The United States of America.

"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'

'O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?

~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

~ John 11:25-26

By the way, the picture is of Mr. Simmons and my niece, Emily, at our wedding rehearsal. Mr. Simmons was a man of solitude but for his son he cleaned up, quite nicely I might add, and attended our wedding. Yet another memory for which we are thankful. I should write more about my generous father-in-law soon.

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