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Where There's A Will, There's A Way To Worry Less

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God bless you.

This month, after waiting for more than two and a half years, I hope to receive my new heart at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn..

I've already made contact with the owner and pilot of a private charter plane. He assures me that he can be at a nearby private airport within 90 minutes ready for takeoff. He'd fly me in for $1,700. Mayo Clinic also has an air ambulance, that would cost $10,000, to be paid by my insurance company because they require air ambulances.

I live just 15 miles from that airport for private planes and I can get there in 20 minutes or less. The 365-mile flight will take roughly 90 minutes. And since I must be on the operating table 90 minutes after I get the call that a new heart is ready for me, I have roughly an hour of wiggle room to get me from the Rochester, Minn., Airport to the Mayo Clinic's St. Mary's Hospital, where the heart transplant surgeries are performed.

At times, I was a nervous wreck because there are other personal and family matters that I have to attend to.

The first priority is the successful transplantation of a new heart as soon as possible because I want to retire as soon as I get it. Otherwise, to retire beforehand and lose my affordable group health insurance coverage would devastate my family financially. I have rebuilt roughly three months of medical leave allowed in our union contract. A layoff at this point of my life and in the situations that I'm in would be a DEATH SENTENCE.

Another top priority is for me to start getting my pension that I thought I would have and should have had by now if the paper and Prudential had honored their Jan. 22, 2010 letter they sent me, which I was in the hospital fighting for my life and preparing for the Jan. 29 open-heart surgery.

That letter offered me the option of receiving my pension payout in one lump sum. But after more than two months after the Jan. 22 letter, and one month after they had given a fellow employee his lump sum payout, they not only refused to give me mine, they said the deadline for receiving a lump sum had expired at Jan. 1, 2010, three weeks before they sent me the letter officially offering me the lump sum option.

Another priority is the will for my wife Joyce and me. After years of promising to do it, I finally wrote out last will and testament last night. That, my sisters and brothers, was an awesome task.

It's one thing to write out your will at age 30, 40 or even 50 years old. But when you cross age 65, are fighting prostate cancer, have a cancerous tumor on your brain, are being sustained by a mechanical pump and are in dire need of a new heart, writing a will is a rueful reckoning with approaching death.

When I was a little boy, I was so much afraid of dead people and death. I wanted nothing to do with dead people because I feared that death was contagious. I preferred life, especially the youth of life when all things are fresh and your perception of all that you can see, hear, smell, touch, taste and imagine are so razor sharp and crystal clear. Add energy and agility to that youth and you are in a wonderland.

I was so in love with my youth that I went over behind a Mississippi barn one day and made a pact with myself, promising that I would never dare get old and die. Boy, was I one cock-eyed, naive, insane optimist!

Finally, and not too suddenly at all, I am sick while I am getting old. My grandson, Caleb, likes to remind Joyce and me, laughingly, "Y'all are old, grandpa. Just face it. Y'all are old. But don't worry. I still love you grandpa and grandma."

Yeah, that's well and good Caleb. But what I way to tell that to us.

So I sat down and finally wrote our Last Will and Testament that remains to be notarized and witnessed. The next thing we want to do, and it's something Joyce has been asking me to do for years, is to get our side-by-side burial plots.

I used to ask Joyce to promise me that she will never stop loving me and never marry another man. She agreed. Then I felt I was being too selfish. Then I had her to promise me that if she married another man, make sure that he isn't some broke guy, who only has sex to offer, and will have to move in with her and live in the house I paid for and sleep in the bed I slept in and live over the money and property I leave her. I'd rather he has a house he can move her into. Otherwise, she can do bad all by herself. Just date him and wish him well. But don't take on a son you'll have to take care of because you'll have far more than he does and you'll in essence be taking care of him.

I saw my mother-in-law completely forget and disrespect her first husband, the loving father of her children, the grandfather of my children, and the man who worked two and three jobs to buy her a house to live in and he financially set her up for life. But she married a man who was broke, in debt , moved in with her and even got her to put his name in her will to inherit everything her first husband acquired to give to her second husband and his daughter and other family members if my mother-in-law died first.

The whole affair sickens me, my wife and her sisters because the man, and sometimes only, man she praises in her life is her second husband, whose relatives stole half of their savings days after her second husband suffered a stroke one day and came back the next day to get the remaining $30,000.

So I beg, Joyce. Please, baby, don't do me that way. Always remember that I was your first love, the faithful, hard-working, loving father of our children, and the grandfather of our grandchildren. And if you marry again, make sure you marry somebody who has more money than you do. There are TOO MANY black women supporting black men who are good-for-nothing leeches, ingrates and deadbeats. Far, far too many!

I'm ol' school. If a man never thought enough for himself to get Jesus as his Savior, get a good education, a good job, make good money, save, get married, love his wife and children and help raised those kid, I, to be honest, don't have much respect at all for men living off of women because they are lazy and never grow up and assume responsibility for themselves and their family.

I don't want these guys as son-in-laws marrying my daughters or granddaughters and I sure don't want them likewise becoming husband to my widowed wife.

Things like this came to mind while I sat down writing our will. We're allowing for some money to go to my grandchildren. But it will only be for their education and they must be law-abiding, hard-working, serious-minded students, who are in good standing with some educational institution and maintaining a grade average no less than a C.

I pray that it will be a long time before our Will have to be opened up because one of us has died. But just in case, that Will makes sure our earthly affairs will be in order. Our heavenly affairs were taken care of long, log ago. Our final retirement in the cosmic condo of heaven is already paid up in full. Jesus paid it all. All to Him we owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. But He washed it white as snow.

God bless you.

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My will only says two things: Pay the bills and say no to the invitations.

My dear Lacy, you sure know how to do an early Christmas present - a new heart! Wonderful. I take it that this news means you are next on the list. It's been a long wait, but now, your turn is near. So rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Don't let your mind rest on all that worry about what will happen when you're gone. I don't think you're going anywhere for awhile. Besides, once you go on, it won't matter that much what's happening here; you'll be wrapped in wonder. And you always know that extraordinary woman you married is smart enough and strong enough to continue to make the right decisions. We often don't give our matriarchs their full propers when it comes to their strength and wisdom.

Of course, I don't know what it's like to be in your shoes at this time. But, I do know from various experiences and some inconvenient encounters with death that what happens, happens. There's nothing we can really do but what we're supposed to do, which is rest in faith. You did not dispense your own medications, nor wield the scalpel in any of your operations. All you could do is follow directions, take what comes, and have faith that the results would be good ones. It's all you've ever really done and it's brought you this far. If we were all honest with ourselves, we'd admit that it's all any of us can do. Your present situation simply underscores it.

As the season descends upon us when Love is so keenly felt, we remember that there is nothing, not even death, that is greater than Love. Everything is an opportunity for Love. We remember that death is a human condition and, therefore, doesn't really exist in heaven. And we know that to be true of hate and discrimination and ignorance and doubt, yes and worry too. They are not real. They are but reminders for us to return to our faith, to remember what put us here in the first place, what we are here to represent.

As you look around at those people who have abided with you during this struggle, including Caleb the young and outspoken (aren't they one and the same?), you can afford to acknowledge that you are in heaven already, for you Love and are Loved. And as you recover from your transplant, those will be the faces you'll first want to see. And you'll know that your true heart, your strong healthy heart, has never been the one in your chest. It's been all of them - the ones you love and who love you. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Merry Early Christmas, Lacy - to you and yours.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Aaaahhhhhhh.......John. There's nothing like sublime words of wisdom, deep, rich wisdom, that make my day, my night, my..... Your comments capture me, my makeup, my mind, my soul, and, yes, my heart ,so comprehensively. Might wisdom be the most underrated medicine? And, really, it's not even on the market. People will charge and pay for knowledge. A shrink, a marriage counselor, a lawyer, a group motivation speaker, even preachers, priests, other religious ministers and most professional teachers in the educational system--they charge for and we pay for their knowledge. But real wisdom, which is the fear of God and information that helps us make the best use of all knowledge, all experiences and all property, is free. Ans wisdom does not always come from old toothless, balding elders in attered sackcloth, who have been around the track a few times or who have satyed in the cave, in the monastery or on the mountaintop long enough. . Did not the psalmist David write in his eighth song, Out of the mouths of babes and suckings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger? And did not our Savior Jesus say in St. Matthew 21:16, "Yes, have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou has perfected praise? Then there was the poet and philosopher William Wordsworth, who wrote "the child of father of the man." Yes, wisdom is not always dispensed and packages in wrinkled, old, dusty wrappings. It sometime comes minted in spanking new foil from the mouths of, shall I say, youngsters like you, John. I say that because I assume you are chronologically and physically younger than I. In any case, you are a near-perfect example of a person who speaks far beyond his years. Likewise, let me wish you happy holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas and a happy New Year. Wouldn't it be loverly if I got my new, healthier heart just in time for Thanksgiving? Wow!!! Yes, these are the seasons of love. And look how God have divinely clustered them in a nice bunch. Talk about getting a lot of bang for your bucks? Opps, there it is. I like just about everything you usually write and that you have written again this time. What stinks out most to me is your reminder of my real heart. Thank God for this eight-ounce muscle that throbs in my chest and pulsates, propels and powers the circulation of life-sustaining oxygenated blood. But the deeper organ that gives, enriches and sustains life is the sum total of those loved ones, some things and some experiences that help define our quality of life. Those people, those things and those experiences nearest and dearest to us. Those things that, yes, throb, pulsate and propel the best of life. Yes, how true is the Savior, "Where your heart is, there be your heart also." Any way you slice it, splice it or spice it comes out the same to me. Where my heart is, there lies my treasure, too. And remember that Christ also tells us that blood is not the only valuable thing that is circulated by the heart. For out of the heart, He said, flows the issues of things. Also, as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Thus, all these entries I have posted, all you comments you have written and all the response I've made to them constitute our individual and collective hearts. We also have al ol' saying in the Baptist church that what comes from the heart reaches the heart. This leads to the oft-stated conclusion that he who controls the heart controls that host. Yes, I am in dire need of having a healthier heart transplanted in me to improve my health and sustain my life. But that real heart, that super suppository of my substance as a living soul, that needs no transplantation. It labors, too, under the weight of thise worlds woes. But it needs no transplantation. David, after he had sinned royally, literally by coveting, lusting for and committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband with a lethal military assignment, knew the source of his blame and shame. That's why he prayerfully petitioned God not just for God's mercy, but for the creation of a "clean heart." Yes, that was the real heart of the matter. Here's a happy, healthy heart to you, John, and all you others sisters and brothers, who not only have become dear to my heart, but have become a big part of my heart. Happy heart and long life to the lot of you.

Dear Rev. Lacy,
I read your latest post several times over the weekend, each time gleaning a new word of wisdom from you. I also enjoyed a chuckle or two, especially your thoughts on the possibility of your wife remarrying if you passed away. It made me wonder if I should let my husband know in no uncertain terms that he needn’t worry about me allowing some unworthy man to reap the fruits of his (and our) labor. You and my husband both would be extremely difficult acts to follow in Joyce’s and my life.
Thank you for updating us on the progress toward God’s impending healing through the heart transplant. Our anticipation couldn’t possibly be as great as yours and your family’s, but I venture to say that it’s close. Personally, I’m waiting expectantly for the major miracle moment when I check your blog in a few months and see a new entry from you, filled with joy and praises to God for His continued faithfulness and healing power.
In the meantime, my prayers continue for you, your family, the entire medical and support personnel through whom God will manifest His Power and Will, and for the donor and their family for their unselfish gift of life to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Your wonderful words are always so comforting and encouraging to me. Thanks you for your kind, honorable compliment on me as a husband, who, like your husband, would be a hard act to follow. I definitely can say the same about my wife as your husband would say about you. You and my Joyce are one of a kind. She assures me that if I were totally paralyzed or in a coma or grotesquely disfigures by some accident or sickness she would still love me. I will say, however, that you and Joyce have a huge advantage over your husband and me. You see, it is much, much easier to find a good woman than it is to find a good man. And because there is such an inordinately exorbitant surplus of good women, most men don't even want to get married anymore. They would rather play the field. the problem is far worse in the black community, where more than 72 percent of black babies being born today are born not only out of wedlock, but by a mother resigned to never getting married until she finds a good, loving, faithful, hard-working, God-fearing, generous and unselfish man who will be a durable, proud and happy family man. James Brown once sang a chauvinistic song, "This is A Man's World." But he also adds that it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl. That's just raw reality. Not just because it's the women who give birth to every member of humanity, but nobody in the animal kingdom love as strongly and a long as a woman. Too many men are too proud, too selfish, too insensitive, too macho and too greedy to really love deeply and dearly. I pity the fool who believes a man ain't supposed to show emotions, fall in love or cry. Real men love. Real men have real feelings and aren't ashamed to show them. Real men cry. Yes, real men cry!!! All my life, I have been on speaking terms with tears. We know each other on a first-name basis. Yes, I have cried before my wife even when we were dating. And I certainly have cried during our marriage. I have cried when I have been in deep moments of intense appreciation for her love, her unselfishness, her humility, her loves for her children, parents and other family members. She has been a far better wife to me than I have been a husband to her. I can truly say this because I could not ask for more love than what she has given me in times of great adversity. I have been fired. She hasn't. I have been seriously ill many times. She has not. I have been sad for so many reasons so many time. And either she has been far fewer times or she puts up one powerful front. Oh, Marie, I could write a book, an encyclopedia about the supreme love of a woman. Women love with every iota of their essence. They love with incredible, untiring and ever-yielding passion. Aahhhhh, the love of a woman. Their faithfulness, when they love, is unfailing and infallible. A woman loves with violent deliciousness, delight and determination. I first got acquainted with a woman's love through my mother. My father love me, too. Don't get me wrong. And my father often cried, too, when he'd talk about our mother, who died at age 42, and about how proud he was of us. I should not be alive today because I once got so mad that I punched my dad. He whipped my butt like it was nobody's business. His was tough love. I hated those whipping then. I love them so much now because they are big reasons why I'm not only not in prison but I'm still alive. Then there is my mother. I still remember her caresses. Her feeding, clothing, cleaning, encouraging me I remember how she smiled at me from her death bed. I was 11 years old and she was dying from from blood poisoning after medical negligence and racial discrimination in the Mississippi medical system failed to warn her about the very high likelihood that the baby she was carrying was going to die before term. When it did, they failed to respond and remove it quickly enough. I cry to this very day when I remember my mother's short, relatively thankless, unsung life. She deserved far better. She died when her youngest living child was a two-year-old son. She died before ever seeing one of her children get married. She died without ever seeing one of her 14 grandchildren and her 12 great-grandchildren. Excuse me. Tears are welling up in me right now. Somebody out there knows what I'm talking about. Somebody else out there had a mother like mine. She never had much money and washed and ironed the clothes of others to help pay our food and clothes. in church services, she would scream and shout whenever she was overcome by the joy of the Lord. She loved me until anybody ever has and ever will. A mother's love is unconditional. No matter how bad she child, she or he is still her child. When everybody else goes against her child, and does so for just cause, she will still love and stand by her child. My mama gave birth to 13 children because she loved my father because she loved her children. Eight of her babies survived death. Five did not.She was a caring and sharing woman.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on November 6, 2010 8:59 AM.

We're Closing In On My Sheherazade. Thanks. God Bless You. was the previous entry in this blog.

From Under The Bottom To The Very Top of Mayo's Heart Transplant List is the next entry in this blog.

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