Some of you may know by now that my father-in-law, Rev. Baldemar J. Alvarado, passed away this past Easter weekend. He was a semi-professional baseball player, a pastor for over 30 years, served in the Air Force, retired from civil service, a father and faithful husband for almost 50 years. Belinda, the boys, and I had planned for several months to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Belinda’s parents at the Beeville Country Club this past Easter weekend. We were so excited about this celebration. Baldemar and Elia have been such servants to us that this was our one opportunity to serve them. It was fun just watching them wait and get excited for this day.
On Good Friday my father in law had a massive stroke. My brother-in-law and I loaded him onto the stretcher and road with him in the ambulance to the hospital. I knew he was having a stroke but I did not think it would be fatal. The doctor came out to give his report and told me what I already knew…he was having a stroke and they were going to do a CT scan. The doc said it would either be a light stroke or worst case scenario, a hemorrhage that would be fatal. I thought, with unfounded certainty that this would be a light stroke. I was wrong. The doc came out and said “I have really bad news…your father had a massive hemorrhage and will most likely not live past 24 hours without life support. Belinda’s PhD is in Communication Disorders and working with stroke victims is her specialization. She knew way too much. She knew what the doctor meant.
To say that the doctor’s words were devastating would be an understatement. Grandpa was sent via Angel Flight to Corpus Christi for another CT and possible surgery but surgery was ruled out. He drew his last breathe about the same time the 50th wedding celebration was to have occurred. Seemed like the whole world shut down and like the tomb of Jesus, silent, confusing, painful, and disorienting.
We returned to Beeville to tell all the grandkids that grandpa had passed away. There would be no surgery and no 50th wedding anniversary celebration. We grieved with them for about an hour and then sort of huddled back in the den. Belinda’s brother was trying to explain how family members would be coming by the next day and the kids would see lots of crying, some laughing, and some more crying, and so on. At that point, Thomas, our youngest, raised his hand as if he was in school (the school of faith) for permission to speak. Uncle Rocky said “Yes, Tom?” Tommy said “Well, I know two things that are good about this situation…first, Grandpa is with Jesus and second, we get to be out of school for a few days.”
Thanks, Tommy for taking us to our faith and for bringing joy into a difficult situation. We planned for a 50th wedding celebration but another celebration took place instead. Our thoughts are not his thoughts and our ways are not his ways. He gives and takes away but my heart will say, blessed be the name of the Lord. I am driving with my two older sons to Beeville again today but this time for a different kind of celebration…a homecoming celebration. I have been asked to preach the funeral service. Please keep us in your prayers. We are still dealing with the shock of Grandpa’s unexpected departure. I loved him like my own father. He accepted me and loved me unconditionally. He reminded me what it is like to live like Jesus and he always saw more in me than I could see in myself.
There are more than two good things about this situation. We are just now remembering to count our blessings. Life is but a vapor. Enjoy the privilege to be alive today and enjoy your family, your loved ones, and those you work with. Life is too short to live it any other way. The Lord is good, his mercy endures forever, and He lives…