Dark brown urine, change in skin color and loss of desire for food or drink. Those are signs, indicating that the time of his passing is close at hand. The decline that began when he tripped and fell leaving the pulpit on a Sunday evening in early March is near its culmination. A longer, slower decline had occurred over the past several years, both physically and mentally. He had moments of sharpness so acute as to bring marvel and others more inclined to bring embarrassment to those who listened and knew the Charlie Arnett of earlier years.
Fervent in preaching, devout in belief and constant in showing care to neighbors and church members, Dad has walked all but his last few steps upon this earth. He will leave the legacy of many good men: his virtues well known and his faults mostly private. This writing will do nothing to change that. Eventually, in all appraisals, we either choose to accept the bad with the good or else toss the whole lot. In the tossing, we deprive ourselves more often than not.
I have not visited in Kentucky since I saw him in the hospital in March. He was weak then, at death’s door for a day or two, but recovered to some degree for a while. My oldest brother, Richard, and his wife, Joan, have devoted many hours to providing care for him and Mom in what is sometimes a grueling duty of love. There are others who would have given more had circumstances been different. In the end, we will all be left with our own private griefs, our own sorting of memories, our own admiring and forgiving.
As to Dad’s own accounting before him who will one day open the books, it will not be the nearly seventy-eight years of preaching, the decades of working and the giving to others that will matter most. What will matter most is the verse he quoted to me in the slow dark hours of that March morning in the hospital: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.”
Go calmly into your rest for that day, Dad, go calmly and quickly. They’re ready for you.