J. R. Anderson was a motorcycle cop in Miami. His home there was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. So he and his wife, Becky, returned to his hometown of Lakeland. I first got to know them when they took a hand in kitchen duties at the church, preparing Sunday breakfasts and other meals for special events.
I got one impression of J.R. when he spoke to a Discovery Weekend group I attended at All Saints’. I got another impression of him when I found a picture of him playing a game of horseshoes with a friend in his backyard. Instead of horseshoes, they were tossing big U-shaped toilet seats. His sense of humor and quick joking was always one of the first things people encountered when meeting J.R.
Another thing you would notice pretty quickly was that J.R. loved good food. I have happy memories of a big pizza party Becky invited dozens of their friends to for his birthday (or maybe it was their anniversary? I just remember the pizza was good.).
The other thing you would notice was that J.R. loved Jesus and took his faith seriously. I had a chance to see more of that side of him after I had the stroke that confined me to my house. J.R. decided he would come and visit with me once a week. This decision required an effort on his part since he was not in good health himself. He had gone through rounds of cancer treatment with the added challenge of internal bleeding that his doctors were struggling to locate and fix.
J.R. believed laughter was good medicine. During one of his earlier hospital stays I loaned him my DVD collection of Buster Keaton silent comedies to watch. But later, when J.R. visited me, we just talked, and we talked a lot about the Lord, and prayers for healing, and trusting God for the details of our lives.
Those weekly visits continued until September of 2015 when I had to return to the hospital for colon cancer surgery. When I got home again a month later, J.R.’s health had deteriorated into the series of on-again off-again hospital visits that made up the remaining months of his life. Melanie and I lifted up J.R. and Becky in our prayers but I never spoke with him or visited with him again.
Today we’ve heard that the Lord finally lifted up J.R. and took him home. His children had been able to come over Easter weekend and be close one more time. Now our own prayers will continue for Becky.
Say hi to all our friends at Home, J.R. And I’ll be expecting you in the welcoming party when I arrive.
Maybe we can get in a round of horseshoes.