Julius Ewald Karl: The End of his Life Journey …
by his wife of 31 years, Yvonne
For the most part, I have been an independent gal from birth – one of the characteristics my husband said attracted him to me. Although I was 10 years younger than he, we married, melded, and worked tirelessly and harmoniously in marriage and ministry giving no thought to age difference. In 1985 at the age of 54 (when our children were 7 and 12), he refused to give in to the diagnosis given him of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and continually declared the scriptures over himself and believed he would receive complete healing. Finally after 13 years of persevering through numerous monthly doses of chemo and radiation, he was pronounced cancer-free. We rejoiced. His energy was renewed—mentally, spiritually and physically. God had answered our prayer. We had a wonderful summer.
In September 1998, he began having pains in his legs then in his back. Simple tests showed nothing. However, in early December, the neurologist ordered a biopsy of his spine. Thus it was on 14 December 1998, the oncologist delivered the shocking news that cancer had now invaded his major organs. Furthermore, chemo treatments would neither cure nor lengthen his life and likely would make his remaining days more difficult. Julius turned down treatments – having already placed his life in God’s hands. He came home from the doctor and called our daughter and his sisters and told them, “My Father is calling me home.” He seemed convinced, but I still believed he would overcome this diagnosis as he had so many times before.
Immediately he took charge of end-of-life issues. He planned his funeral—which he chose to have in the funeral home chapel—and directed that a celebration feast be held at the church. He called a good friend since seminary days to come to do his service. He picked out his casket and his cemetery plot. He apologized for not having any life insurance and prayed God would take care of me. He told me to take care of business as quickly as possible and move on with my life … specifically to “take a trip.” He knew I loved to travel; he didn’t. He made it clear he only wanted immediate family with him when he died. He had fully embraced an imminent move to his heavenly home.
He was able to be up and dressed until about four days before his death. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, his sister came from Canada and mine from WV to see him unaware it would be his last day of communication. They said their good-byes knowing they wouldn’t again see him alive and returned to their homes with a snowstorm in the forecast.
Six weeks had passed since the final prognosis. Our children, now 25 and 20, kept vigil with me over the next hours. We played all 24 audiocassette tapes of one of his favorite singers, David Ingles, took turns reading scripture to him, and played the entire score of Handel’s Messiah. At 7:20am after a peaceful night, his pulse stopped. It was 25 January 1999. When we looked outside, a beautiful, deep snow had fallen leaving everything glistening white.
I had fasted and prayed over those nearly 14 years (minus the summer of 1998) for his healing, for us to grow old and share life together serving our Lord. I was disappointed, but accepted that cancer had taken his life and God whom He loved so dearly had welcomed him home. For years he had often said: “When I die, I’ll just move to my Father’s house!” He told me if he went first, he would be waiting for me. He repeated these things just days before he died.
Having grieved many times when it seemed like he might be at the end of his life, I was emotionally and spiritually strong when he died. Oh I missed him, and I cried … yes, I wept off and on for some time –usually in private. But God kept me strong. My joy was full even though a part was missing. As the years passed, I was content with memories, the love of my children, my extended family, and a multitude of friends … and most of all because I knew how much God loved me and would always be my rock and my fortress against sadness and discouragement. My life was truly hidden in Him.
*This is also in a separate article: https://wp.me/p1buYw-aL