hines_web.jpgWhen James F. Hines Jr., died in the early morning hours of Sept. 14, we had just finished, what was to be our last conversation only a few hours earlier. Rick, as he was lovingly called, was not only my son, he grew up to be my dear friend. We talked about everything.

Now that the Lord has seen fit to take him away, I keep thinking about what we talked about late that Friday night. I remember him saying to me, “Mom, I have some good news and some bad news. What do you want first?”

I said to him, “Just drop it on me.” He told me that his 6-year-old grandson Jaylen had made two touchdowns that evening, but his team still lost the game. He told me how he had encouraged Jaylen to play like a good sportsman and that he had done very well. He told his grandson that he was proud of him.
Jaylen and his cousin Tavaris, also 6, were the bright lights in their “Poppa’s” life. He doted on them and I was so proud of the man and granddad he had become.

As a single mom, I reared Rick and his brother Shawn and, had it not been for my faith in God, I don’t know what would have become of them, or me. There were times I had to tell them that I didn’t have all the answers, and that we were in “this thing” together, learning as we went along. If I made a mistake, I never failed to acknowledge it and to say, “I’m sorry, boys.”

Then, some years ago, a miracle happened. My son Rick turned his life over to the Lord, accepting him as his personal savior. It was a happy day for me. A few years later, he was called into the ministry, and preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday at his church, Koinonia Worship Center, on what would have been his grandmother’s 86th birthday.

Today, I am remembering so much about my son. And I am thanking the Lord for his life and for choosing me to be his mother. What an honor! 

I am looking back to when he was born and how proud I was to be a mom. I am seeing him as a toddler, all wide-eyed and curious about all of nature, including doodle bugs.

I see the adolescent boy, who struggled to keep his changing voice in check when it crackled as he talked. And I see him as a handsome teenager, with a string of girls in tow. Then, all too soon, he was a married man, starting a family. He was so proud of his three beautiful daughters.     

As I look back over his life, I can only be thankful. I learned from my son how to really trust the Lord. When he was in his mid 20s we learned he had an enlarged heart. Later, when he was in his mid 30s his doctor told him he should have a serious heart operation, but there was a 50-50 chance of survival. And if he did survive, he would be an invalid.

I remember, so well, when Rick told me, “Mom, I have been playing basketball and going to the gym all my life. I am just going to trust the Lord and live as I always have.” I remember saying, “… if that’s what you want, I will trust the Lord with you.”

God gave my son more than 20 years of quality life. He let him witness the birth of his two grandsons. And because Rick grew up fatherless, the Lord gave him a heart for young boys who were growing up without their father. Many evenings, after a hard day at work, Rick would join with other ministers and deacons to reach out to young men through a street ministry.

A couple of years ago, he founded with his wife Debra, Brothers and Sisters on a Mission Inc. (BASOAM), an organization to reach out to at-risk youth. Since his death, a scholarship fund in my son’s name has been added to the organization.

Now, that great big, loving heart of Rick’s has ceased to beat. As a mother, I never thought I would have to bury my child. It doesn’t seem to be right. Still, I know that I am not alone, that so many other moms have had to go this route. The one thing I have learned from the pain of losing Rick is the fact that God had a plan for his life and he fulfilled that plan.

As for me, I can’t and won’t say that I understand all God’s ways. But I can say this: Lord, I trust you. You have never made a mistake and I know you never will. I give you all the praise and all the glory for allowing us to have Rick in our lives for 55 years.