By Richard (Dick) Morissette
Last spring my wife, Judy, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. We had been to a concert where our granddaughter, a high school senior, was performing and had received several awards. It was a very pleasant and exciting evening. After saying goodnight to family and other friends, Judy and I began our trip back home to our apartment in assisted living in Greeley, Colorado.
I noticed that Judy was easily irritated. Upon arriving home, she began to have trouble communicating. After summoning help, we called the paramedics, and Judy was taken to the emergency room. I was informed that she had a brain bleed and needed to go to the regional hospital in Loveland. Following several more tests, I was told that her bleed was right in the middle of her brain and therefore inoperable.
Just the preceding week Judy had been suffering excruciating pain in her back and legs. She told me, “You know, heaven is looking better all the time.” My answer to her was “It sure is. I only wish we could go together.” Because of that conversion and others when we both had signed directives dealing with end-of-life issues, it was determined to not do any heroic efforts to prolong her life, but to keep her comfortable. Little did I know how hard it would be to watch this play out. That first night in a period of clarity Judy asked, “Am I dying?”
How do I answer that? I thought.
I paused, and the Lord provided the answer. I told her, “You are going to live forever.”
She nodded affirmatively. Later that night in ICU as I watched my wife of sixty years and nine months, I was overwhelmed with sadness. At that very moment, the song “I Love You Lord and I Lift My Voice” by Laurie Klein came to my mind. I started singing it aloud. l did not care who heard or how badly I may have sounded. Other songs intertwined with praise came one after another. Day after day the Lord would remind me of a song that was special for that day.
… in ICU as I watched my wife of sixty years and nine months, I was overwhelmed with sadness. At that very moment, the song “I Love You Lord and I Lift My Voice” by Laurie Klein came to my mind. I started singing it aloud.
This went on for nineteen days until Memorial Day, when Judy got her wish. What a fitting day to go home. We as a family held a service in our assisted living facility and another at my home church in Hardin, Montana, where Judy and I had pastored. I led the service in our assisted living facility by myself before going to Hardin. Someone asked, “Wasn’t that hard?”
My answer was “Yes, but it was a piece of cake compared to what Hubert Mitchell went through.”
Many people in Open Bible knew Hubert’s brother, R. Bryant Mitchell, who served as Open Bible’s Director of Missions and as General Superintendent of Open Bible Churches. Bryant’s brother, Hubert, was also a man of powerful faith.
When I was around five or six years of age, Hubert Mitchell was a guest in our home during speaking engagements at our church. He told us the story of how he had written the music to a poem that graced the wall of his home in Sumatra, where he and his bride served as missionaries. He had just lost his beloved wife during childbirth. Hubert, left with three young boys and a baby daughter, was left to dig her grave as there was no one else to help. As he moved away the earth, God gave Hubert the melody to the words of the poem, “He Giveth More Grace,” written by Annie Johnson Flint, a song that has ministered to many since.
During one of the nights I sat with Judy, this story and song came to my mind. I thought, If Hubert Mitchell could endure all that, alone and halfway around the world, then God’s grace would certainly be enough for me also.
God has a way of giving strength and peace as we need it. The last song the Lord gave me during this time came while I was preparing for our service in Hardin. Another pastor was going to lead the service; however, I wanted to conclude it. At 3:00 a.m. the day of the service, I awakened with a song my daughter had sung with a friend at her eighth grade graduation, “Friends,” by Michael W. and Debbie Smith. I thought of the words: “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.”
With that song in my heart, I looked out at the friends that were there and gave them an opportunity to know Jesus personally. I reminded them that with our faith it is relationship, not ritual, that matters. Because of that truth, I know I will see my Judy again.
Will you and I see each other a hundred years from now? I sure hope so. Until that time, may God always give us a song.
About the Author
Richard (Dick) Morissette was raised in Open Bible. After he and his wife, Judy, experienced three miscarriages, Dick went into education. Upon accepting a position of superintendent of schools in the small town of Rosebud, Montana, God blessed them with their children. Since that time Dick has served in administrative roles in several different schools and churches. In 1989 the Lord powerfully called him to his home church, Church of the Open Bible in Hardin, Montana, where he and Judy pastored until retiring. In 2020 he and Judy moved to an assisted living facility in Greeley, Colorado, to be near their children.