Hello folks! It’s been way too long since my last email that has more than a schedule in it. Although a little lengthy I ask you take a few minutes to read the following.
The past few months have been some of the most challenging in a long time. Two immediate family deaths in January and February 2 weeks apart was much more than we anticipated.
On January 25th Ilene Irvin, my “adopted” mother passed away unexpectedly. In no way do I won’t to downplay cancer screenings but her death was a result of a routine colonoscopy. So you can only imagine the shockwaves of the news. Here’s a portion of my Facebook post only hours after her death.
“…For over 25 years she laughed when I laughed, cried when I cried, prayed when I couldn’t, held me close when I was near, understood me even when I didn’t understand myself, knew ALL my faults and failures yet reminded me she loved me, gave solid advice even when I didn’t want to hear it, always made sure I was fed, loved my family, called me her “other boy” (she has a biological son Christopher), she would get perturbed if there was a gap in my phone calls, could make me smile when no one else could,….you get my point.
I’ll summarize how the Irvin family. I was still in high school and I knew of them for their singing but never had a conversation. One night God told me to go to their house. I found out where they lived. I got in my car about 11pm, drove to their house, pulled in their driveway, knocked on the door and was greeted by her husband Joe. I said, “I don’t know why I am here but God told me to come”. Joe replied, “I know exactly why you are here”. Ilene was facing some challenging times. God had given a sign He had heard their prayers.
She, too, was a life long singer with her husband Joe and daughter Brittany by her side. Her voice was God-breathed! How I’d love once again to hear her say “that’s my boy”, “love ya bunches”, “you hang in there”, “we’re praying for you”, “be safe on your journey”.
We returned home from her funeral service early Tuesday, January 31. We were awakened hours later to a phone call from Melissa’s sister, Amie, saying she was taking their dad, Jim Hay, to the ER. He had pacemaker replacement about 2 weeks earlier. Having COPD for several years made his recovery more difficult. He stayed several in the hospital. Upon dismissal we brought him to our house on Monday, February 6 to get rest and assistance until he recovered enough to return home. By Wednesday it was evident things were not going as planned.
After Melissa had left for school and I had taken Emme to school he asked me to sit down with him that he needed to have a “heart to heart”. Melissa already knew what his final wishes were and had been given the legal authority to carry those out. But the conversation that proceeded no one had heard. As he shared how he wanted to “do right by my girls and fight” he said “I have no fight left”. With sound mind he requested Hospice care.
He was always a straight-shooter, never sugar coating anything. If you didn’t want to know his opinion don’t ask, especially regarding politics. But one would often get his opinion whether you asked for it or not. But when it came right down to it he was there for us. For example, I received news about a year ago that would affect my life forever. It was 6am. Melissa called her dad who lived 45 minutes away and within an hour he was here. He couldn’t change the situation but he listened. This I speak ONLY from my relationship with Jim and the relationship I saw between he and Melissa.
Now it was our turn to be there for him to listen to his straight forward and simple message. The evaluating Hospice nurse came and determined the COPD was end-stage. He consented to proceed. Melissa asked me, “Is this what adulting is?” None of us desire to have those days where we have to make these types of “grown up” decisions. But those times do come.
Most importantly I had asked him if he had ask God to forgive him. He replied “yes, many times”. I knew he was referring to the day to day asking for forgiveness but not from a salvation perspective. I asked if he had asked Jesus into his heart. He said, “I guess that’s the part I’m lacking”. A minister came to our home and he and I shared with Jim what Jesus had done for him. He received that Word. In my heart I believe he made peace with God for within a short period of time he would slip into a non responsive state and soon leave a body of struggle into life everlasting. Melissa misses him greatly. He championed for her and sometimes gave her the advice she didn’t want to hear. The day he passed she reflected on her relationship and her final actions. My two words to her was “no regrets” which she repeated. I don’t know what it is like to experience the loss of a biological parent. But I’ve seen her sorrow. We now understand what we’ve heard about the first holidays and other special days. And it is difficult. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Although our hearts grieve and now have voids we’ve never had before, the Good Shepherd is leading us through green pastures, beside still waters and restoring our souls. Weeping may endure for the night but joy will come in the morning.
There is one more event I’ll share and wrap this up. Probably most of you are aware that I have a deep brain stimulator (DBS) to treat dystonia. (details about dystonia on my website.) The implanted battery must be changed every few years. We have fought insurance hard since August. They would never agree to give me the referral to a neurologist and as of January I needed a neurosurgeon. Thanks to a Medtronic representative she facilitated me getting surgery. I had to admit myself through the ER at Presbyterian Dallas on February 24th. The surgeon on call had agreed the week before if I showed up he would do my surgery regardless.
Of course, in true Bunch fashion it would not go off without a hitch. In preparation for surgery earlier that day I became unresponsive. My heart rate dropped into the 20’s and blood pressure was 50/30. The nurse called a “code”. Melissa is in the room and is instructed by the nurse to go for help. This is 2 weeks after coming through 2 deaths. Once I was awake Melissa’s anxiety and fear was still evident. And recent family deaths had intensified the moment. Surgery was performed later that afternoon and I came home that night.
Just a few days ago after almost 2 years Blue Cross Blue Shield has approved a neurologist for my on-going treatment. It’s not the one I want but I’ll hope for the best. Through all this the generosity of people have showed us once again we don’t have to go these roads alone. We’ve experienced this over and over again but I am still amazed at how God provides for His Children.
In closing, I’m asked almost every weekend I sing about my next recording. Simply put it is expensive. I know it will come but how all this will come together is going to be up to God. I want to record a Christmas album. God’s timing is perfect and He will make a way when it is time.
Be sure to check out my schedule. Hope to see many of you in a town near you.
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