Sad News from ApologetiX
Sat., Jan. 11. 2020 11:46am EST
This is J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX.
Our friends and fans on Facebook already know this, but I have some sad news to report: My dad, Frank Jackson, died Thursday, January 9 — just four days shy of his 91st birthday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Dad fell Monday night and hit his head, and it was obvious Tuesday morning that something was very wrong. He was alive, but my mom, who is also 90, couldn't get him to wake up. They live in an assisted-living community in Greensburg PA, and the staff there sent him to the local emergency room, where doctors discovered bleeding on his brain, so he was flown by helicoptor to Pittsburgh for emergency surgery.
Since I live in Pittsburgh, I was able to make it to the hospital in time to see him before he went into the operating room. He was surprisingly coherent by then, and we talked a little bit and prayed before he went in. Even before such serious surgery, he was more concerned about my mom, who had been left at the hospital in Greensburg, and my sister Gayle, who was driving up from Virginia.
The surgery was completed Tuesday afternoon. Dad had an acute subdural hematoma — a vein ruptured outside his skull. The surgeon said afterward that it was about three inches wide and went from the front of his head around to the back — very large. He said they'd gotten the blood out and Dad's brain seemed to be OK but Dad wouldn't have lasted another day without the operation and the next 72 hours would be critical.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Unfortunately, he never fully regained consciousness after the operation, although his eyes would occasionally open for brief periods of time. He passed away Thursday morning at 6:33 a.m. EST. My mom and sister Gayle were there, and I got there about 20 minutes later. They were able to say their goodbyes, and I had been able to talk to him Wednesday night, although he was unable to respond.
My mom wrote him a love letter and read it to him Wednesday night while we were at the hospital. May 2 would have been their 67th anniversary. They'd known each other for 70 years. His heart started giving out very early Thursday morning, and the hospital staff made his last hours as painless as possible. My mom, my sisters, and I are grateful that it was not a long process — sometimes that can take much longer.
I was blessed to be the last family member who got to actually have a two-way conversation with him, and I will always be grateful to God for that and for the opportunity to tell him I loved him and hear him tell me loved me that last time, which was probably about the millionth time he had told me. :)
HOW HE LOVED US ALL
My dad was the main reason I never had any trouble believing in a loving Heavenly Father. I know God gave me something with him that 99% of my guy friends could only dream of. I usually talked to him at least once and often twice a week. He always made me feel so loved and appreciated. He was very vocal about it. He was a praying man, and he loved the Lord.
In recent years, I had tried to think during each phone call, "Hey, you never know if this will be the last one," and I'd gotten him to tell me many stories from his past, some I'd heard before and some I'd never known. One time, several years ago, he said, "You know how God said, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' about Jesus? That's how I feel about you."
Back in 2013, he came to see me sing at a worship concert at my church. On the ride home afterward, he told me, "Tonight after you finished singing, I heard a voice behind me saying, 'That's my son, John.' And there was nobody sitting behind your mother and me [they were in the back of the church]. I know it wasn't your mother. It was God." You have to understand that my dad was not pentecostal or charismatic, nor was he prone to exaggeration or excessive imagination.
On a different trip around that same time, he told me something he'd never revealed before. He said that when I was a little boy, he used to come in after work when I was asleep (he'd work during the day, come home for dinner, and often work afterward) and he'd say, "He's Yours, Lord. I'm giving him to You. Well, he's Yours anyway. But whatever you want him to be — a priest, minister, whatever — I'll help him be that." I didn't know that till about seven years ago. It really blew my mind.
WHY WE HAVE NO REGRETS
Dad lived a long, full life. He would have been 91 this coming Monday. He was an unbelievably loving father. I miss him already, and we all miss him, but God gave us many opportunities to prepare, as my dad got sick and was in the hospital about once a year for as long as I can remember (the rest of the year, he'd be fine); and he'd had a heart attack, a stroke, and an infection in the past couple years and was in extended rehab after all three of those.
Until he fell Monday night, he had been remarkably sharp-minded for 90. I had a nice, long conversation with him on the phone last Thursday, January 2. But his body was weak (he had fallen many times over the years, despite having a walker and a wheelchair and other precautions), and he was ready. And my mom was ready. And we were ready. So don't worry about us. My other sister Kris was already flying up here from Florida when he died.
My oldest sister, Jeannine, died in 2002 after a long battle with a rare illness, and she also had a strong faith. I'm sure Dad was looking forward to seeing her again. I only saw my dad cry a few times in my life, and the one time I ever heard him absolutely sobbing was when he called to tell me she was gone. I look forward to seeing them both again someday.
In addition to my mom, my other two sisters, and me, my dad is survived by three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, 13 grandchildren (five of whom are married), and five great-grandchildren. His two older sisters and one older brother died a number of years ago, but he has two younger sisters who are still alive, and he saw them at our annual family reunion last August.
He outlived many of his friends, but I can't say that he outlived his enemies, because I don't think he ever had one. He was a hard-working, kind, generous, funny man — a genuinely nice guy — always looking for the positive in any situation.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Unfortunately, this has been a busy time of year for the local funeral home and church, so we won't be able to have visitation till this coming Tuesday, and the funeral on Wednesday. My dad was notoriously late for things, and he never worried about it, so he'd probably get a kick out of that.
As you might imagine, all this activity is causing a delay in our music production, but we'll try to get back on schedule as quickly as possible. We appreciate the many prayers and kind words from you all over the past several days.