Sunday, August 23, 2015

Russell is free at last!!

A week ago Saturday, our family lost a very dear friend. His name was Russell Solice and he and his amazing family touched our lives in so many ways since we met them when they moved into our neighborhood back in 1998.

Russell was a quadriplegic, confined mainly to his bed, lying flat on his back, since his tragic auto accident at the age of 17. Most quads live a life span of 12 years past their accident, Russell outlived them all and lived an amazing 31 years! God definitely used this man in so many powerful ways in the lives of thousands of friends and family.

I casually met him one day when he was out in his stick activated chair, directing his wife as she decorated their house to the hilt for Christmas. We became good friends and even closer after my diagnosis with MS. As the years went by and my MS disability increased, I found myself home bound much of the time, not able to drive anymore or get out and about like other able bodied people.

I did have a motorized scooter, and it quickly found its way to Russell's house. That is when Russell and I really became kindred spirits. If I was ever feeling down all I had to do was go see Russell. He always had a smile on his face, and no matter how he was feeling that day, he put aside his cares and always empathized with what other people were going through, always. He always wanted to know what was going on in your family and in your life. He truly cared about all of his friends.

I had never met anyone like Russell and probably never will. He was one unique individual. Highly intelligent, very compassionate and always involved in life through his connection to the world, his phone and his computer. He had friends all over the world, playing computer games Mafia Wars, Farmville, Candy Crush and Words with Friends, a Scrabble like electronic game. He was connected to everyone through his email account, and Facebook. Seemed like he ran the world from that computer!

My good buddy Russell

He was passionate his family, his many friends, about LSU, the New Orleans Saints and football in general and boy did that guy ever a great meal! Being a native of  Louisiana he preferred his food kicked up a notch as Emeril says. We cooked for him often and shared many meals together at their house and even toted meals up to share with him in the hospital. Our love of good food was one of the things that bonded our families together.

My talented cook, hubby Steve, would cook his favorite foods and I would pull up the rear baking his favorite goodies....homemade cookies, brownies or cupcakes.When we had handicap ramps installed at our home and he could finally get in here with his chair, he and his wife were able to share a meal at our place, which was really special. Russell was always so appreciative of everything you did for him. I'll never forget that about him. He lived his life with a thankful heart. Here was a man who had every reason to complain about his life, but he never did.

                              Steve and I with Russell after one of our meal visits with Russ at the hospital

                                    The gang at the hospital, me, our son Jordy, Russell and daughter Ashley

Russell was out and about as much as he could be. I can remember our youngest son Jordy saying how he and his neighborhood buddies used to go golfing and Russell rode right along with them on the local golf course. He just loved being with people and sharing their lives. Russell loved going out to eat, to church, to any kind of events that friends or family hosted. He had a regular Thursday evening Poker Night at his house. He loved games and he enjoyed his friends immensely. He enjoyed life his life as much as he possibly could considering his physical limitations.

Dinner at our home! Yummy...Steve, Dianne and Russell.
Always smiling, my sweet friend Russell.

Although he wasn't always a Christian, Russell was always seemingly carefree. He had a wonderful family and supportive wife. But, when he did finally find the Lord through a Pastor friend, it was then that Russell had a new purpose in life and became a phenomenal witness for Jesus Christ. No matter what was going on in his life, he was there for you, praying for you, encouraging you every step of the way, showing you the love of Jesus at every turn. Even though he was never able to use them himself, Russell was truly God's hands and feet here on this earth in a powerful way.  

He was in and out of the hospital many, many times over the years that I knew him, gravely ill so often and God always seemed to spare him and bring him back to us. I think it was because of his tremendous faith and unwavering spirit. I was sure that each time he pulled through it was because God still had work for him to do on this earth.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for each and every one of us and that was certainly true of my sweet friend Russell. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

His devoted wife Dianne was a force to be reckoned with in her own right. I admire her so much. She married a man, that was a total physical invalid and devoted herself to his care and well being. That is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. What a strong woman she is! She had two young children from previous marriages and when they got married they melded into this wonderful family with so much strength and courage. In many ways it was Dianne's tremendous fortitude that allowed Russell to carry on his warm and caring ministry for so many years.

                                                                 Russell and his love, Dianne

                                          The Solice Family. Russell will always remain in my heart.

When Dianne called me a week ago to say Russell was back in the hospital, this time in a coma, with pneumonia and on life support. He desperately needed our prayers, and Steve and I immediately joined the ranks of friends and family around the world praying for our friend. The call went out through social media and everyone who knew and loved this amazing soul, joined the ranks to support him.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse on Friday. With his fever spiking at 107 degrees, Russell was fading fast. His eyes were fixed and though he could move his head there wasn't much hope because he wasn't responding to anything the doctors were trying. Things from a human perspective indeed looked bleak. His doctors who had seen Russell pull through so many times from the edge of death were convinced this was the end. Dianne called in his family from New Orleans and his one step-daughter Mary who lived in Massachusetts. His family waited by his bedside to say goodbye.

When his sister Jackie and step daughter arrived on Friday and Saturday afternoon that is when things got interesting to say the least. They removed Russell from life support because the doctors thought he would easily be able to breathe on his own and be more comfortable. They waited and prayed.

God had other plans for the Solice Family. He wanted to reward his good and faithful servant and He did something that was truly miraculous!

Instead of slowing slipping away, in God's power, Russell pretty much came back to life and had 4 wonderful hours communicating, reminiscing and even joking with his family and the few close friends that were there. He was able to tell each of his loved ones that he loves him. He was joyous and even though he family was going to miss him terribly, they were joyous too because they knew he would finally be free from his broken earthly body. What a gift the Lord gave that family!

His sister told me those hours were some of the most wonderful ones hours she had spent with her brother since his accident 31 years earlier. After a time, the doctors were preparing to him move out of ICU and into a regular room again, saying the miracle man had done it again, cheating death.

That is when Russell began to breathe heavily and his lungs were starting to fill up with fluid. They knew that his time with them was indeed coming to an end. The group gathered and prayed him into God's Kingdom. They told him it was ok to go home, that they were going to be fine, And then he was gone with the biggest smile on his face. His sister said it was an ear to ear smile like she had never seen and this from a guy who was always smiling.

He was smiling because he was free for the first time in over 31 years.The shackles of his wheelchair were gone. His work was done on this earth.

Thank God Almighty, He's Free at Last!!

He was whole, he was standing tall. God had given him an amazing gift to be able to spend those precious moments his family one last time and now for the first time in 31 years my sweet friend is running the streets of gold in heaven. He's laughing and joking and enjoying time with his Mom and Dad who preceded him. He no doubt is enjoying her home cooked meals right now!

Matthew 25:21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! 

I'm gonna miss his sweet spirit and his sense of humor. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend his memorial service because I already have plans to go see my granddaughter and celebrate her 1st birthday. But I will be there in spirit and I know his service will be the celebration of the century and it should be. He was a lot of fun and his service should celebrate all the wonderful attributes of this terrific man. He was one in a million and I'll never forget him or the way he made me feel. He was an angel here on earth. His obituary is attached below.

God Speed good friend. See you on the other side and we can roller skate together!!

My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today:

Dear Heavenly Father:

Thank you for the life of my friend Russell. Thank you for his ministry that touched so many lives over the years. Thank you for using him to spread your love to the lost and hurting. It's hard to know your ways Lord. It's hard to understand why Russell was stricken at such a young age, but we believe in your providential care for each of us. You had a unique plan for Russell and used him for your purposes in your perfect timing.

Be with his family. Comfort them and surround them with your angels of mercy. Support them in the coming months and years. Protect them and uplift them as they continue Russell's legacy of love for all.

I pray,
Amen and Amen

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