The Rebirth of a Tyrant

By Jane H. Smith

            “Who is that standing at the door, Jane?”  I looked to see what dad was talking about, when he indicated someone standing at his bedroom door.  Dad was close to death at that time, and in the latter days of his life, he had been having more and more to do with the Lord than ever before.  He kept in touch with Pat Robertson who had a television show that dad would watch from his bed.  He really liked Mr. Robertson and what he stood for.

            I didn’t see anyone at the door, but he indicated there was someone there, so I asked them to come in.  I looked at dad and said, “Dad, that is your angel coming to take you home.  Are you ready to go?”  He indicated he was and seemed at total peace with it.  It seems that for several weeks prior to the latter part of August, 1987, dad had allowed some of the women from the local United Pentecostal Church to visit him.  That was totally unheard of for him. 

            I can remember as a girl growing up with him, he would cuss a blue streak; yell like an Indian, if anyone from any church would come to visit.  Get to h--- out of my house, he would scream.  Profanity was second nature to him with out any thought whatsoever.  Some of the totally profane words he omitted unless he hit his thumb with a hammer or clipped something that was not to be clipped.  Nevertheless, for the most part, his profanity was just a little less than a raunchy sailor. 

            He hated my mom, but then again I can’t blame him there; hated his boss, and again, I can’t blame him, and it seemed he hated his life.  Life had not been good to him.  He contracted polio at the age of 17, in 1923, and never walked again after that.  His bitterness of not being able to walk around on his own took its toll on him.  Even though he never indicated to us that he was living in his own kind of hell, he was a deeply bitter man.  He was a big man, around 6’ 4” and his weight neared 300 pounds during the mean time of his life.  He dragged his dead legs around for 63 years and he never complained to us about it.  Later in his life, he would admit that he never understood why he was the one afflicted with the disease that would take the lives of scores of people.  True, he could not walk, but so many others died and scores were forever entombed in iron lungs.  He was in a way, lucky, or was he blessed.

            Mom was for the most part, a psychotic person.  She was violent, hateful, and without any conscience at all would just as soon beat the living daylights out of dad and me, as though it was a normal thing to do.  She didn’t beat her son, who was born after I arrived at their home; a product of lust and alcohol by dad’s brother.  Dad ended up taking me because no other family member would.  Because of her inconvenience, mom was extremely mean to me.  Beatings you wouldn’t give to any living thing were the norm for me.  Dad caught a lot of it as well.  I can remember when I came charging down the stairs to defend him after he was in bed, his braces removed and helpless, and while she stood over him beating him senseless.  When I attacked her, his profanity could be heard for a city block.  Our family was more than dysfunctional.  It was violent.  He ranted and raved, while I took the beatings she was inflicting on him.  Her choice of weapon was a cast iron fireplace poker.  She swung it like a washwoman and landed blows directly on top of my head and shoulders.

            This type of behavior went on for years.  I asked him, when I was around 17, why he stayed with her, and he said if he had left, the courts would have given me to her and she would have killed me without further ado.  For that I was grateful, but the torture she put him through was unheard of.   I can never remember ever seeing dad hit my mom.  Even though I thought at times she surely deserved it, he never hit her.  Her blows on him were nothing short of spousal abuse.  If today’s laws were established in the 40’s and 50’s, she would surely have served time in the local jail.

            Dad was not the type of person who would go to church.  I don’t recall him ever going.  However, he did tell me that he went one time when I was a small girl.  He said the people snickered at him on his crutches, and some man who he did not know, approached him to fill out some paperwork (I assume it was a visitors card), and then asked him for a donation.  He never went back.  He said church was nothing short of a begging session by fools who just wanted his money.  Dad was so blind when it came to God’s plan for us and the work he did for all of us.

            On September 1, 1987, I sat next to dad in his bedroom.  I held his hand.  He said to me, “I’m going to die tonight.”  I said to him, “Dad, you have that right.  You’ve lived for 80 years, and have been extremely successful.  You have taught me well, and I thank you for that.  But, are you ready to leave this earth?  Is your soul right with the Lord and have you ask him to forgive all of your sins and to take you home to be with him?  I know you have had a hard life dad, but when you get to heaven, you will run and be around others whose bodies have all been transformed from bad to good.”  He smiled and said, “yes.”  Then he said to me, “I would feel much more secure if I knew you were okay and living in this house.”  I was torn with his statement because we lived 140 miles north, my husband and I both had good jobs and I didn’t want to live in the Mississippi delta region ever again.  I didn’t know what to say because I was so surprised with his statement.  I didn’t want to stop my sharing his last moments with him to call my husband to get his thoughts on the matter, so instinctly I said, “Well dad, I’ll come back here for two years; two years only.  If we can’t make a decent living here, we will go back north.”  Dad understood.  I sat there pondering what I would do without him, when he asked who was at the door.

            I must say that to look at a doorway where no one stood is indeed a feeling of fear.  However, he was so calm about it and gave me every indication that it was good.  I had a aura to come over me that was nothing short of miraculous.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He gave me assurance that dad would be just fine.  Dad said, “You know, I had a dream the other night that I was running across fields of the brightest flowers and I didn’t have anything wrong with my legs, no braces, no crutches.”  I was amazed.  At the time I was a new Christian and my knowledge of how the Holy Spirit moves was new to me.  I didn’t quite understand all of it, and I was somewhat unsure of what was going on.  However, when I opened my mouth to speak, the words flowed as though I was well versed in the Holy Spirit, and I said to dad, “Dad, you are ready to leave this old earth to go to a glorious place.  A place of tranquility and peace.  You are ready to go to be with the Lord.”  I whispered, PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!! 

            Dad closed his eyes and drifted into a coma-like state.  He was peaceful and still.  During the night that night, September 2, 1987, dad’s blood pressure bottomed out to the point I could not get a reading at all.  He lasted until the next morning when the doctor came and then dad slipped into eternity.  What a great transformation took place over that few months.  From yelling and screaming profanities, to his actually admitting he was wanting to go with his “angel” and to his new home.  I was so happy for him.  It was I had hoped for my entire life.  As I look back at him that night, I see the glow about him that radiated joy and peacefulness about him.

            The tyrant was gone, to be no more, but the new freed and renewed spirit was entering God’s kingdom and the Angel’s sang Hallelujah.


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