When the Reaper Comes A-Knockin’, We Must Get A-Rockin’

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by Rick Jobus |

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When I was in elementary school, my mom would occasionally take my brother and me to Woolworth’s, our local five-and-dime store. We would often have lunch there, and my staple was the open-faced roast beef platter, followed by a hot fudge sundae. Afterward, my brother and I were left to exert the consumer buying power that an allowance, circa 1969, could wield.

Although the store seemingly had an infinite number of acquisition options, my meager budget and adolescent worldview invariably prompted a basic decision tree. If funds were scarce, several licorice sticks would be purchased. If my piggy bank was moderately full, then baseball cards were opted for. But if I were flush with nickels and dimes, I’d reward my astute wealth management by selecting a 45 rpm record.

At that time, my musical awareness, and thus my pool of choices, was limited to Top 40 playlists. That is, with one exception. Every so often, a novelty recording would show up in one of the bins. My particular weakness was for those that humorously combined the choruses from multiple “bubblegum” singles in a mock interview that lampooned current events. If a new one was out and my bankroll allowed, it would find its way into my growing stack of 45s.

Last week, my mind harkened back to that era. The impetus was a message from a relatively new friend, whom I was introduced to via this column. My friend was anguished, and in response, I paired the unlikely combo of Sister Sledge and Bob Dylan; “We Are Family” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” flooded my consciousness.

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While my new friend doesn’t have ALS, someone they love does. My friend reached out to me after reading a poem I posted. The verses of that poem describe my reality. Obviously, ALS colors that cruelly, but my faith in God is my constant salve.

My friend lamented that their loved one apparently has retreated in their beliefs, and now, I lament it, too. This person is in the advanced stage of the battle, and the pandemic is complicating matters.

As I wrestled with how best to pray for this person, I read my ALS News Today colleague Kristin Neva’s recent column, in which she sensitively explores the topic of how wildly variable ALS is in its victimization scheme. Suddenly, I was reminded of an immutable truth.

We are all essentially the same. Each of us is a member of the same flawed and fallen species. What’s more, although we navigate the route differently, including our own unique potholes, detours, and accidents, the destination is always the same.

Whether one calls it heaven, paradise, reincarnation, redistribution to the universe, a nondescript spiritual realm, hell, vampire, ghost, zombie, or nothingness, a transition awaits. From the moment of conception, we are pointed to the same door, which we will ultimately knock on.

If my Sister Sledge premise is a sound one, we should emulate what a family does when one member faces a crisis. As members of the ALS family, we should rally around my friend’s loved one, and by association, one another. We can borrow from the ubiquitous, momentum-reversing song by the band Queen that is played at many sporting competitions: “We Will Rock You,” ALS.

Folks who believe in a divine deity can pray. Those who don’t can focus for a moment on warm thoughts and positive energy. At a minimum, we can petition that the person in question will be comforted and find some joy, and regain their spiritual footing.

As for me, I’ll pray a prayer I originally wrote for myself: “Evil attacks aren’t only ours to defend. Jesus assures that we are never alone. Eternal salvation must always depend upon God’s divine love shown.

“Countless blessings on me have been bestowed, from precious birth to the present day, even though my faith often has been bowed, and the righteous path I’ve failed to obey.

“Over again, you’ve protected me and led me out of true harm’s way. Now, as our family member faces a new enemy, please save them, is what I pray.”

May the same transpire for all of us. After all, we are family — the ALS family.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Jamie Evans avatar

Jamie Evans

I was diagnosed with als March 29th this year. I believe everything happens for a reason. God knows what he is doing. I will never give up. Thank you for your help.

Christopher Beutler avatar

Christopher Beutler

I live with ALS and the only thing we can control is our outlook. Western Culture is terrified of death. Eastern philosophy (Buddhism) embraces the end of life as a celebration. As you say, in the ALS family we need to reassess and find a spiritual path that can help us come to terms with the outcome of our disease, and to cherish the life we've lived and die happy.

John alvarez avatar

John alvarez

I write to say, well done amigo! I welcome your insights and kindness to the person you feel for! Yes we all will meet our maker and we are all made from the same dust! Keep writing, like the joyful sorrow column, you inspire, humor and it's enjoyable! Cheers from Perth Australia!

Jennifer Zink avatar

Jennifer Zink

That is great to hear! Keep the positivity flowing!

Susana Rave avatar

Susana Rave

Rick, I love your posts not only do I enjoy your writing style but also because they are so inspiring. You articulate similar feelings I have and when you attach them to lyrics they always make me smile at your ability to do so. God bless you for sharing these with us. THANK YOU!!


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