A great man died this week at the age of 83.

A few months ago he came home from a doctor’s appointment and said, “They’ve given me a death sentence. I’m so happy!”

This man considered it a great blessing to be forewarned of his life’s end, to be given time to prepare. To him a lung cancer diagnosis was bliss. “I’ve never prayed so well,” he said.

And he went on to finish his days as he had lived before. Simply, and with great faith. Working tirelessly for the people he served.

I was always impressed by the way he saw people in a crowd. People were never just a crowd to him. They were individual souls with their own story and life and pain. And he made himself available to hear those stories, enter those lives, feel that pain.

He will be so greatly missed, and we also rejoice for him; I am sure he is very happy in the house of his Lord.

I hope when my turn comes I will have lived a life that makes me able to face my death with a smile, as he has done.