With a nickname like “Hammer” I was wondering what kind of man I was about to meet as I entered the 7th floor room at UAB. Though I had never met Hammer, I had heard some things about him from the staff and community at Church of the Reconciler.
And there are those first impressions, those first moments as you meet someone for the first time, and when I walked into the hospital room I saw a big smile and gentle spirit. And it was exactly the person that others told me I would meet.
I have been in several hospital rooms over the years where the patient was terminally ill and in most cases the mood is the same. The patient is calm and almost content. The patient is the one that calms the visitor or family member, a special courage that seems to surface when someone is near death.
And Hammer was dying of cancer, he knew it and his family knew it. And just as I had experienced before he greeted me as if he was having the best day of his life. He was not interested in talking about himself or his illness, he wanted to know how the people at COR were doing. And he semi-lectured me in a very loving way to the fact that I was blessed to be at COR and that it was the most special of places. And as I have experienced in the past when I left the room I felt better than when I went in.
I was only in the room for about 30 minutes and it was the last time I would see Hammer. Within the week he would be in hospice care and shortly after he had died. But that 30 minutes told me who Hammer was as a person, man, husband, father and grandfather. He was an obedient servant with a faithful heart.
The Church of the Reconciler had a special Memorial Service in honor of Hammer, and I had the blessing of meeting his family and hearing testimonials from family and friends. And the words chosen were, loving, kind, friend, hard working, fun and always faithful. As Matt said during the service, “ He was one of the kindest people I have ever met.”
I am so grateful that I got to meet Hammer, even for just 30 minutes. And I am thankful to God for letting me sit beside this man and pray with him, knowing that Hammer heard the amazing words as he entered eternity, “Well done good and faithful servant!”