In the years I knew Bob, he looked the same, smelled the same, and acted the same. Even though I described him as a bitter, crotchety, old man, he was always kind to me. I believe he thought of me as a daughter as well as my sisters. We cared for him and loved him back.
For a while I didn't see Bob at all. I was married and preoccupied with life on my own. But Bob requested a visit from my husband and I. It was during this visit that I noticed he was not doing very well. Physically he was going down hill. We were about to start building our house right next door to him and he was excited about it. Bob became our eyes and ears by monitoring all the construction. My dad would tell me that the only thing that kept him going was watching my house get built.
As Bob's health deteriorated, sadly spiritually he remained the same. After all the years of my family, especially my dad, reaching out to him, living a christian life and speaking with him personally about God, Bob refused to ever attend church with us or have anything to do with God. He continued to hold onto bitterness towards others and blamed God for many things.
My parents were with him the day he died. They knew it was getting close to that time and they stayed with him. My mother recounted to me the events of his death. She said, "we woke up to check on him and he had already died. He did not go peacefully. His arms were raised, hands twisted and his fingers were bent as if he was trying to hold something back. His face was distorted and grotesque and his teeth were gnashed together. He looked as if Satan himself had tried to take him." It was such a disturbing sight that when hospice came, they would not let anyone see him until they fixed his expression and body.
This was heartbreaking for my dad most of all who spent over 20 years befriending, caring, and witnessing to a man who never accepted God's son, Jesus as his personal savior. Finally I have come to the biggest, most important lesson I learned from my childhood neighbor. I learned never to let go of my relationship with Christ. I learned there certainly is a hell. And just as I have watched the play Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames several times, there is someone who comes for you. But you decide who that will be.