McDowell Technical Community College

Life Lessons

By Doug Harrell

Many of us are or have been blessed with wonderful parents that have taught and trained us correctly and hopefully shared the importance of developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am fortunate to be one of those that has been blessed in all regards.

Thirty years ago, my wife Barbara and I were home one weekend and took time to sit down with her mother, Belle Buchanan, and my mother and dad, A. D. and Geneva Harrell.  We told them all that we were planning on returning home in a couple of years and planned to stay in Mitchell County and be there to help take care of them in their old age.  In 1990 we made that move home to the mountains and are still living here and if the Lord is willing, will do that until it is time for us to go to our eternal home.  The twenty-eight years here has been a blessing beyond description.  Now I know that many of you cannot make a move to come home to look after parents, but if you can, it is well worth the sacrifice to do it.   The Commandment, “Honor Thy Father and Mother that your days may be many” is the The Harrellsonly one with a promise attached to it.  Dad and I were always close but to be able to spend twenty-two years working together on the farm, hunting together and just spending time together was a blessing greater than I can even describe.  Our roles changed as the years went by and if you are able to spend time with your parents, you will see the roles change as the years roll on.  We were working partners on the farm as long as Dad was physically able to do hard work and in the later years of his life, he was the one that kept an eye on things and let me know what needed to be looked after or fixed, and there are always things on the farm that need to be fixed!  Dad had a massive stroke at almost ninety-six years old, lacking three weeks, and I found him out in field with an old mowing scythe that he was using to cut down some thistle before it went to seed.  Two days later he left this earth for his heavenly home.  The day he died I had told him, he was unconscious in the hospital, that I was going to go home and put up a field of hay that needed to be baled and I would be back later in the day.  He had told me the day he had the stroke that there was a gate that needed to be fixed and a fence post that had broken off.  Later that day when I returned I was told by the nurses that his breathing had been very labored for the past hour.  I walked in the room, sat down beside him and held his hand, leaned over and told him, Dad the hay is up, the fence is fixed and the gate is repaired, all is okay.  He never opened his eyes, but I am sure that he heard me.  His breathing and his face relaxed, about fifteen minutes later he took his last breath.  I am sure he waited on me to return with that news that all was taken care of.

Two years later, Barbara’s mother, Belle Buchanan, passed away but we had years of visiting and being with her that are totally precious to us and I know were to her as well.  She had been at home but went to stay with Barbara’s sister in Hickory and her heart just stopped while she was there.

This past week my mother, Geneva Harrell passed away at our home after being with us for six years, most of which required 24-7 care.   I have gone through all this just to encourage you to honor and provide for your parents to the very best of your ability, knowing that all our circumstances will be different.  There are no regrets and no wishing you had done this or that if you do the very best you can while they are alive.  Barbara and I sat by my mother’s casket in the funeral home and prayed together and gave thanks to the Lord for the life she had lived and the faith that she had, leaned over and kissed her forehead and told her, we will see you in the morning mother, make sure that you can do the same thing.  Live your life with the knowledge that you will be able to see them again on the other side, because this life is but a vapor.