death · eternal · Heaven

Lessons in a Hospice Room

Doc hayaBeing in the presence of a man who is dying and yet is still rejoicing in his spirit is worthy of mental note-taking.  

Just last week my husband and I had the blessing of visiting the founder of The Wilds Christian Camp, Dr. Ken Hay, known to most as “Doc.”  He was in hospice care after all had been done to help him, yet his body continued to decline.

His days were numbered.

We knew that.  

He knew that.

Mental note #1 – Believers that are dying have peace.

When we slipped into his room, all was quiet.  His sweet wife, Diane greeted us with a, “Well, look who’s here!”

Doc looked at his visitors with a knowledge of who we were, though his words were few. We had only been there a few minutes when there was another knock at the door. A man and wife, fellow church members, entered and took their place at the foot of the bed.  Within the next ten minutes two more guests came individually, a man and a woman. With each knock and entry came the familiar

Well, look who’s here”

by Doc’s wife.  Each face was a welcomed surprise, bringing with it comfort, yet also a solemnity.  We all knew why we were there. We had come to say goodbye.

Mental Note #2 – People who give much of their life pouring into others are loved much.

Conversations at this time are unnecessary.  Who cares how I’m doing or who’s going to be playing in the next basketball game?  Words are spoken with intentionality and purpose.

My husband opened the Bible app on his phone and began to read from Psalm 73:25-28

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.


My sweet husband then led us in songs, one after the other – Victory in Jesus, Blessed Assurance, What a Day that Will Be.  The small congregation/choir that had gathered all found themselves weeping, singing and watching the expressions on Doc’s face go from subdued to radiant as he occasionally even joined in on our songs.  At one point his eyes grew wide, his eyebrows lifted, and he whispered, “Wow! Wow!”

After one of the men led us in prayer, it was time to bring this visit to a close so our dear friend could rest.  One by one, we each filed past him, telling him goodbye and thanking him for his faithfulness over the last 50 years as he had poured his life into the camping ministry that had impacted each of our lives in profound ways. We filed out in the order we had come in, giving me one last time to talk with Doc and Diane.  

Quoting the verse on the sign as you leave The Wilds, I said,
“Dr. Hay, we will continue in the things that we have learned and been assured of.”
He smiled and winked.

We left with tears for our own loss, but also for the gratitude we felt for this man who had given so much in the name of Christ.

Doc graduated to heaven this week.  I couldn’t help but wonder as he walked into the portals of glory, if it wasn’t his turn to hear someone say,

”Well look who’s here.”  

Was it his daughter who had preceded him in death just a few short years ago?  Or perhaps someone who had trusted Christ as their Savior at teen camp at The Wilds and entered heaven earlier than most expect.  The greeting wouldn’t be out of surprise, because Dr. Hay was a follower of Christ, having put His faith in the Lord alone for salvation. It would be with sheer delight to realize he had joined them in the presence of His Savior. 

All that is speculation,of course,  but one thing I am sure of is Christ’s greeting  to this humble man who loved and served Him so faithfully – Welcome home good and faithful servant.

Mental Note #3 – That’s how I want to die.

Friend, what will be said to you by the Lord Jesus when you die? “Welcome,” or “I never knew you?”  If you don’t know Him and do not have an assurance of a home in heaven, will you go here to find out how you can trust in Christ and have the same confidence my friend Doc had? I also invite you to contact me in my blog email (found in the contact info above) with any questions you may have regarding salvation.

denise a



5 thoughts on “Lessons in a Hospice Room

  1. I read this to my family and cried. I agree with your “mental notes.” We didn’t know Dr. Hay as well as many others did, but he was a blessing to us many times. Thanks for sharing.


  2. This is so encouraging and so timely. Our family is also going through this with a close elderly friend who’s in process of leaving this earth. These last days have been so special for all the reasons you’ve mentioned here. Thank you!


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