A week ago last Thursday, our dear friend and longtime pro-life colleague, Chet Thomas, suffered a massive heart attack. He was 83 but extremely active. Indeed, he still worked every day as a substitute teacher in the Omaha Public School system and his social life was on a pace that would wear most others out.
I got to the VA Hospital and talked with the doctors who were in the process of sending him over to University Hospital. Things didn't look very good for recovery. His arteries were heavily clogged and the right side of the heart was done for. I explained the situation to Chet and he was very calm and cogent, concerned less about his condition as he was me taking care of the Sunday School class he was teaching. We also had prayer together in which his focus was the spiritual well-being of his family.
As the course of the week wore on, Chet's condition worsened. He required a heart pump and a ventilator. His kidneys were failing. And, after a series of convulsions Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, he passed away. We had been at the hospital the night before along with three of his daughters, his personal physician (also a close friend to us all), and a couple of other friends.
We had the responsibility to try and keep friends updated on Chet's condition throughout his time in the hospital. We sent out reports daily. As I said in the post above, I will be doing the sermon
at Chet's service this week and I may post those remarks later. Here, however, is the e-mail update I sent out immediately upon hearing about Chet's passing.
Update -- At eight o'clock this morning (Saturday), Chet Thomas passed from this troubled life into the presence of his Savior. After decades of faithful worship and devotion, he received the long-desired embrace of Jesus and heard that most exhilarating of welcomes, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord."
The pain is gone, never to return. Indeed, Chet is enjoying a youthfulness, vitality and keenness of mind unlike anything he ever experienced -- even greater than anything he ever dreamed. Those eyes that so marveled at the beauties of this world are now taking in sights infinitely more beautiful and enchanting and glorious.
Chet is also beginning the rounds of sweet reunions with loved ones who have gone before. And new friendships will be born. Imagine Chet's delight in meeting C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, Roy Rogers, Billy Sunday, and angels!
And amid all the enthrallment, there is the wisdom, righteousness and loving mercy of God for Chet to enjoy throughout eternity.
Chet Thomas will be greatly missed. He has, in our case, enriched our lives in innumerable ways over the last 28 years and it will be a hard adjustment to life without him on the Vital Signs board, the book club, church, and so on. But we will press on, taking his example as a constant "stimulation to love and good deeds" for the Master.
And we will look forward to that wonderful day where Chet will undoubtedly be among those who Jesus invites to be part of our own homecoming party. See you soon, dear brother. See you soon.
(The flower shown above is a white, ruffled iris that bloomed in Jeff and Randy Brown's yard this year. The flower was originally planted in Chet's yard. It didn't bloom last year. But it did this season. Randy sent it along and I was pleased to upload it here. Chet would have loved it.)