The Sudden Death of Our Second-BornOur second-born son, David Waite (age 56), cast off for Glory on April 15, 2008, in a most unexpected way. (But, no matter how death comes, it is unexpected.) He suffered excruciating pain in his body and left leg that morning. Finally. an ambulance was called. He was awake, conversing to the ambulance workers and the hospital nurses. Suddenly, while in the emergency room at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J., he stopped breathing. Emergency life-support-care was administered to him--but in vain. He slipped from this life to Heaven. As Fanny Crosby, the hymn writer said of her baby, "The angels came and took my baby to the Throne of God..." (Luke 16:22) He was gone! He had died before the doctor called us. The doctors believed that Dave had a blood clot which went to his lung or heart. When we arrived at the emergency room, nothing was left of David but his body--his shell. It was a shock! There was no "goodbye!"
We never knew how dear such sympathy could be to us. We never knew the comfort of words on a page, a spoken word to the ear, a wreath of flowers by the casket, or a tender hand on the shoulder. The understanding-balm will be long-remembered! It helped cushion the shock of Davidís death.
"No goodbye!" How very like David. It was his practice to phone us often--sometimes several times a day. He had one request with every phone call. He told us over and over, "Do not say Ďgoodbye.í" His voice would just trail off and the conversation would end. So for him to leave earthís shore for his Heavenly Home without a "goodbye" was typically "David." His last call to his father was on the Monday before his Tuesday death. He always showed interest in his fatherís Sunday sermons. They assured each other of their love for one another. Their last words: "I love you, Dave." / "I love you Dad." Then the conversation ended.
Many a Hospital Bed Found Us Watching
Many times, in the past, my husband and I have been called to Davidís bedside. Many a hospital bed found us standing--watching and wondering--and always praying to our Heavenly Father. From childhood days to adult wanderings we watched. His polio attack at eight-and-a-half months, his ear infections, his minor surgeries, his major surgeries, his often running away from home, his Atlantic City kidnaping, his lost car and self in New York City, his many mental-illness confinements, his severe burns at Crozier Chester Medical Center--all are recorded in our minds. Recently he was diagnosed with C.O.P.D. He suffered major arm surgeries brought on by hospitalization injuries, as well as his apartment fire. (A "friend" set his dry Christmas Tree on fire.) Recently he had an infection in his right elbow that would not heal. He had three surgeries on that problem in the last-year and a-half. The skin graft did not take. He was scheduled for the wound center on Thursday, but he died on Tuesday.
Hospitals, Illnesses, & Almost Freezing to DeathNow his wounds are of no importance. He is well in mind and abiding "in a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Corinthians 5:1-b). He is "absent from the body, and ... present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). How many times he fought for his lifeís breath! We cannot number them. The many street attacks were not always told to me; but one put him in the hospital badly beaten. Once a police call came from Peru, Indiana, asking, "Are looking for a son?" His bout with mental hospitals from Vermont, Maryland, and New Jersey--to say nothing of his Virginia experiences--were times of horror for him. The month he spent as a street person in Richmond will never be understood by us. How many nights he almost froze to death there! The phone calls made to us from his lost condition were heart wrenching. No one cared. No one there helped. He was so far from home.
David Wanted His Own PlaceAbout two weeks before David died, he expressed a desire to have his "own place." How he longed to be back on his own again--independent again. How he longed to have his "OWN PLACE." This was not possible anymore after the fire of January 1993. So when David died, I recalled his wanting his "own place." I remembered Jesusí words in John 14:2-3 where He told his disciples (and us believers by extension) that He would go from them (predicting His death); and while gone, He would be preparing a "place" for them and for us. I was comforted by the fact that finally Dave had his "own place" with Jesus in Heaven. I do not know all the details of this "own place" but rejoice over the fact. Who could ask for a better "own place" or a better Landlord for oneís son?
"Iím Born-Again & Saved"He always said to us, "Do not say at my funeral that I am not Ďborn-again and saved, I am!í" He loved giving his testimony--how his life was changed (II Corinthians 5:17) when he received Jesus Christ as his Saviour at the Good Samaritan Inn Mission in Richmond, Virginia (John 1:12). He declared his faith in Jesus Christ plainly and unashamedly. Sometimes, because of his mental state, he experimented in other religious thought, but his heart was secure in his personal faith.
His Last Phone CallThe Saturday morning before David died, he called with a poem. "Write this poem down for me, Mom," he requested. And I did. It made me feel bad. It was about his death. We parted, declaring our love for each other. That was our last conversation.
In a Second of Time
by David William Waite
(October 17, 1951-April 15, 2008)
(dictated to YSW by phone on April 12, 2008)
Green Pines Took Him InHe joined Second Baptist Church right next to the Green Pines Rest Home in Paulsboro, NJ, where he stayed for about a year-and a-half. His father and I were grateful to Mr. Green, the proprietor of that home, who took him in when no one else would. Green Pines took him in. He met so many people in that Paulsboro neighborhood--and he had the church fellowship next door, and the care of Pastor & Mrs. Frazier!
I think that God gives us who survive a special "spiritual anesthesia" to keep us going during the times immediately following such news.
"Iím dying!"We tried to fulfill Davidís burial requests. He had been speaking about death much of late. He told the workers at Green Pines that he was going to die in April of this year. And he did! He told us that one of the reasons that he joined Second Baptist there in Paulsboro was so he could have a church for his funeral and that Pastor Frazier, his pastor, could preside. He said, "I want Pastor Frazier to preach the sermon and you can pray, Dad." He told Daniel, his brother, that he wanted white roses on his coffin. He had them. He wanted a white hearse to carry his body. (We couldnít fulfill that request.) Without question we knew he wanted to be buried at Harleigh Cemetery across the street from his last apartment at the edge of Camden and Collingswood. That final morning, as he was suffering, he said, "Iím dying!" And he was. Though his vital signs were good in the ambulance and at the hospital, he soon passed on to Glory. The doctor surmised it was a deep thrombosis--a blood clot.
Neither One of Us Wanted Such An ExperienceOur son talked so much about dying that I replied, "David, I would feel very bad if you would die." Then he declared, "Mom, I would feel very bad if I had to look down on you in your casket." Neither one of us wanted such an experience. God, in His wisdom, decided who would have to look at the face of our dead dear one. It was I--along with his father and brothers and sister. When I saw him lying there all dead in the coffin (it was only his body and not my son), he looked thirty years younger. The embalming fluid has a way of causing the deceased to be less wrinkled and younger--but very dead.
He Gave Roses To His FriendsWhen we went over to Flower World, around the corner from where David lived, to order the funeral spray for the casket, Glenn, the flower man, asked if our name was Waite. Come to find out, he and his employees knew David well. He came there every morning to visit, and often bought roses to give to friends. I didnít know that. Two grieving widows, who worked at Green Pines, told me later that David gave each of them a rose at different times. He would bring his father and me a carnation for special occasions. I had no idea that he did this on a regular basis for his friends. We learned that day that David had a regular "beat" of places and people he visited almost daily. Mr. Green, of Green Pines, said wherever he went after Davidís death, people came up to him sorrowing that our son had died. We didnít know he knew so many people.
Many Friends in Many PlacesAfter his death and a few days before the funeral service, Brother Daniel Waite and his wife, Daveís sister-in-law, Tamie, traveled to Davidís various haunts to tell them that their friend had died. Unknown to us, he had made scores of friends in the communities where he lived and roamed (in New Jerseyís Paulsboro and Glassboro), as well as in Pennsauken where the Wiley Christian Management Program is located. (He traveled by van there almost every weekday.)
ON APRIL 21st TAMIE WAITE, DANIELíS WIFE, WROTE
OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THE FOLLOWING:
of the gospel of Jesus Christ in his Jerusalem."
David had coffee, told jokes, sang songs, & gave nick-namesPeople at the funeral service told me how he stopped by their houses and had coffee with them. The nearby dinerís waitresses came and said how he called them by nick- names and told them a joke, or sang them a song on an almost daily basis. He stopped at the police station and had friends there. The city workmen--meter readers and water people--missed him, wondering what happened to their friend when he suddenly stopped coming by.
"He Changed My Life," Mrs. Waite
A pizza delivery man told me that David changed his life. "What did he do?" I asked. Then he told me how David listened to him and would counsel him. I couldnít believe it. I said, "Go tell his brothers and sister!" (They were seated nearby in the church.) Earl, his driver--the one who drove Dave from Paulsboro to Pennsauken--cried tears saying Dave was his friend. He told how Dave helped him and they would discuss the Scriptures together. Our oldest son, Don, said, "Mom I donít know which was a greater shock--Dave dying so suddenly or all the beautiful things people were saying about him."
"You Must Let God Use You Where You Are!" I said.When David would be depressed about his life and what he thought was the uselessness of it all, I would try to encourage him. He wanted to be like his brothers and sister with mates and children, homes, a job, and a place in the church and community. He wanted a ministry like his father had. I would tell him that we wished his life could have been different. It wasnít what any of us would have chosen for him, but God had permitted this illness. His illness had changed the direction of the original intent of his life. He could have been a preacher or teacher; but, God permitted Satanic illness to get a foothold into his life and turn it in a different direction--a direction none of us would have chosen. I would encourage him to BLOOM WHERE HE WAS PLANTED. "David," I would say, "You must let God use you where you are." I would add, "The people you are with are your mission field. This is your ministry!" I had no idea what a "ministry" he had!
They Called Him JohnI HAD NO IDEA OUR DAVID HAD MADE SUCH AN IMPACT IN HIS COMMUNITIES. His father and I did not know he made so many friends. He shared his life with them. It certainly was a lesson in what is important in life and how we should be towards others. He had no church, no pulpit, but he had the coffee cup, the conversation, the sane talk mixed with the crazy talk, and his papers he would write. His friends accepted him for who he was and how he was. They called him "John." This mother-heart will be forever grateful.
Flowers Came From Far & Near
People sent flowers from far and near. I didnít think David would have any flowers. Who would care enough about him? The flower shop owner, himself, sent a beautiful purple wreath with orchids, typing three stanzas of Davidís favorite songs. I cried and cried each time I looked at those words. "Foxy Ladies," where Dave had his hair cut, sent two huge flower baskets. Second Baptist and the pastor sent a plant. Relatives from afar sent flowers. Churches we didnít know sent baskets of blooms--to say nothing of the flowers and plant that came to our house. And Pastors came to the church to comfort us.
HOW DOES THE MEMORY OF THE FLOWERS SPEAK TO ME?
They comforted me. They eased the stark look of "death" on Davidís face. My dear son. That which he dreaded, came! That which he feared engulfed him! That which he expected, arrived on time! He kept his heart right with God at the end. He was ready! I, his mother, am grateful. He who shuffled in walking, whose thoughts poured out in words, has been silenced. The hush of death is deafening. What is it like for David in Heaven? I am glad that Dave can praise in Glory--away from those who thought him a fool. I miss my precious "Baby Boy!" I will always love him. (from my diary, May 1, 2008)
Men & Women Stood To Their Feet In ReflectionPeople from Paulsboro, Pennsauken, Glassboro, Collingswood, and other New Jersey areas, as well as Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Florida, came to pay their respects. The service itself was a shining tribute to Davidís life and a comfort to his family. Men and women from all walks of life stood up and told what an influence Dave had in their lives. It was a remarkable revelation! The actual service glorified the Lord. Davidís siblings took part. Brothers Dick and Dan Waite read the Scriptures. Don, Jr. read the obituary. Sister Dianne sang one of her brotherís favorites, Only One Life To Offer. Niece Anna Waite played Nearer my God to Thee on her trumpet. His father, Dr. D.A. Waite (my eighty-year-old husband--we are married for a few months short of sixty years) prayed as Dave had requested. How he loved his family!
Pastor Frazier Comforted with Psalm 23
In His Own Recorded Words, David Gave His Testimony
"AMAZING GRACE, HOW SWEET THE SOUND THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME"Pastor Frazier preached on the Twenty-Third Psalm, comforting our hearts and thanking God that David Waite had passed through his church for a year-and a-half. He told how they loved him and that many burst out in tears when they learned of his death. Mrs. Frazier blessed and comforted our hearts with her words and the church soloist melted our souls as she sang Amazing Grace. Our own church pianist, Dick Carroll, played an organ prelude to some of Davidís favorite hymns and gospel songs.
788 Pictures of Davidís Life Flashed Before Our Eyes
All throughout the service, seven hundred-eighty-eight power-point pictures of David and his family were flashed before the congregation on the sanctuary walls. His brother, Don (and Dan, too), put them together as their tribute to their brother. One of the most moving times in the service was when David spoke himself. From a recent recorded conversation with David, his father compiled and recorded Davidís personal salvation testimony on tape. It was played for our ears that day. We all heard these moving words together. Many people said they had never been to such a service. I knew I had not! I knew, as we all sang When We All Get To Heaven, that God would be glorified. And through our tears and fears, He was.
Words From A Close Friend
"Under That Unkempt Body Was a Gentleman!"In closing I want to send you some words that were sent to us by someone very close to David. I think that they help to explain him to us and the outside world.
The "Absent" Part Is Difficult!I will always be grateful for those who came to the service and to those who have ministered to me by cards, calls, flowers, personal presence, or prayers. I never lost a child before. It is not easy. Even though I know that "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (I Corinthians 5:8) is true, the "absent" part is difficult for us who miss him.
"Please, God, Take Care Of My Little Boy!"Immediately at his sudden death, I thought of my motherís loss with the death of my sister, Audrey. Then, names of my friends who have walked through this Valley came to me. Suddenly I understood what they had gone through. I wanted to talk with them. I knew they would understand. As I view in my home the same power-point pictures that were shown to the church that afternoon, tears come to my eyes. There he is in picture-form as a baby, a toddler, a mischievous boy, a teenager, and a man! So many thoughts pour into my mind concerning our son, Dave. And as I cry, I call out to God, "Please God, take care of my little boy!"
Love Personified!I must say that our family was truly impressed with the love of Jesus shown us by the Second Baptist Church there in Paulsboro, New Jersey. Our daughter said that afternoon she saw I Corinthians 13:13 in action: "Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." She said, "Today I saw ĎCHARITYí in action."
"He Will Be Our Guide"
Before I say goodbye, I want to give you a verse a dear friend gave me immediately after David passed. It is found in Psalm 48:14. It comforted me.
For this God is our God
For ever and ever:
He will be our guide
Even unto death.
In Godís care--even unto death,
Yvonne S. Waite, for Davidís father, too. (I Peter 5:6-11)
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The Bible For Today
For whosoever shall call upon the name
of the Lord shall be saved.
From the Authorized King James Bible