Not so long ago, in the days before the recent improvements in dealing with coronary issues, serious heart disease was assumed, and often was, a “death sentence.” So assumed an old-timer on the
Island who suffered what he thought would be a fatal heart-attack. He was rushed to hospital, but once there his pains steadily increased in severity until he became certain that his death was imminent.
He was immediately joined by his family, including his wife and several children, and by his pastor. Seeing the preacher and expecting this to be his last chance in mortality to cleanse his soul, the sick man determined that there were some unresolved issues in his life. In spite of the presence of his family, he proceeded to confess some things that might stand in the way of his path to Heaven.
Even as he gasped for breath and grimaced with pain, he begged his company to be quiet and listen, and to allow him to unburden himself of some things he had carried for what then seemed like a lifetime. In rapid succession he listed several indiscretions, the memory of which were taunting him, including have stolen some money from a friend and lying about an accident. Finally, just before slipping out of consciousness, he blurted out that he had carried on several extra-marital affairs; one of which had resulted in an illegitimate child.
With that, and an audible gasp by both him and his family, he slipped from consciousness. Within a few more minutes he was in surgery where, to everyone’s surprise, it was determined that his condition was caused by an infected gall bladder, and had nothing at all to do with his heart. After a few days of treatment, he was released and allowed to go home.
Once there he soon learned that his physical ailments were much more benign that the relationship issues he had created. Although his family was relieved that his life had been spared, the better-off he became, the more intensely they focused on his confessions. His wife, especially, was devastated by what she had heard, and took every opportunity she could find to remind him as much.
The tension and estrangement were so severe that after just a few days, the recovering and repentant old man determined that there are some things even worse than a heart attack; and that he couldn’t live with either. He decided to try and relieve his anguish and suffering by thrusting himself in front on a moving car as it passed by his house. Fortunately both for him and the car’s operator, he was so slow in his movement that the driver was able to avoid hitting him by swerving sharply into an adjacent ditch. Once out of the car the driver rushed to the old man to find what had happened to cause him to try and sacrifice his life.
Shaking his head, and apologizing for the additional trouble he had caused, the old man explained his plight to his listener. “A week ago,” he lamented, “I thought I was gonna die. Now, I’m wishing that I had!”