God bless you.
In case you haven't heard, I'm supposed to be dead.
At least, that was the rumor that emerged Wednesday and had one fellow minister, the Rev. Royce Cornelius, even calling the Chicago Sun-Times inquiring about "my death."
But my response to you all is the same that that great American Mark Twin once gave: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
In fact, I will be preaching for the 35th straight Good Friday at Cosmopolitan Community Church, 5249 South Wabash at roughly 1 p.m. If you want to make sure I'm not dead, please come hear me preach.
Albert Dickens, my longtime friend and the time-honored executive administrator of the Sun-Times sports department, called me on my cell phone Wednesday afternoon, while I was in Indianapolis interviewing members of the Indiana Pacers NBA team.
When I answered with my usual "God bless you", Albert said, "Thank you Jesus! I'm so glad to hear your voice. There's a nasty rumor around town saying you are dead."
Hey, that was news to me. But being a reporter, I felt the need to confirm this just as Albert did.
So I called Joyce, my wife of 50 years.
"Honey," I said. "Have you head the news? I'm dead, baby."
"But you just talked to me just a couple of hours ago, honey," she said. "How could you died so quickly and then turn around and call me so soon to let me know about it? You sure soon sound live to me, baby."
"Have I gotten any calls?" I asked.
"Well, Rev. (Gregory) Macon and Rev. (Henry) Hardy called, asking how they could get in touch with you," she said. "When I asked them if they wanted your cell number because I had just finished talking with you, they said 'No. Never mind." But they never said why they were calling. I guess they wanted to make sure you're not dead rather than upset me with hear-say."
Once again, sisters and brothers, in case you just tuned in: I'm not dead.
Not yet anyway.
I'm still No. 1 on the Mayo Clinic's heart transplant list for B-positive blood types.
My prostate is just a .19 PSA reading of being cancer-free.
My brain tumor remains benign.
I still have a pulse, thanks in part to my heart pump, an Heartmate II Left Ventricular Assist Device.
I just ate a pastrami on rye for lunch and I have a kosher hot dog and a slice of cherry pie standing by for dinner.
So, last time I checked, I was still alive.
I know the devil wants me dead. I've known that for years. I also know there are a few people who wish I was dead. And there are a lot of people who read my blog and wonder what's taking me so long to die.
Well, like all of you, I will die some day, somewhere, somehow. But I can't yet say when, where or how. We're all going to have to wait for our respective deaths. This is all up to God. Please don't rush Him, though. I may feel tired of living sometimes, and I'm ready to die because I', a born-again Christian. But I don't want to die yet and I thank God that He hasn't taken me yet. I have lots of unfinished business to tend to.
Right now, I'm back covering the Chicago Bulls and possibly their seventh
NBA championship. I've already covered the first six.
I also want to see my grandchildren grow up. I also want a new heart before I retire, but may have to retire first if it doesn't come by August 7, my 39th anniversary of working for this paper.
At age 67, I believe I'm the oldest reporter working for the Sun-Times. I also believe I am the only newspaper reporter working for a major newspaper with a heart pump.
Once again, for the benefit of you who have just changed channel and tuned us in, we are reading some words being written live by Lacy J. Banks, who was rumored Wednesday, April 20, to be dead.
Obviously, I'm not.
I'm glad my death is just a rumor.
Thank you, Jesus!
And I really don't mind people spreading a rumor that I'm dead. I'd simply like for them to let me know first rather than let me hear it from somebody else. Doesn't that sound fair to you?
Meantime, I'll see some of y'all Friday at Cosmopolitan--God willing. One thing for sure: I'm not going to die one second before I preach my last sermon.
God bless you.