James Parrish

We have gathered here this afternoon to mourn and to remember Jim Parrish. But we also meet because we long for hope. To find that hope we turn to the Word of God where Isaiah wrote,

28 Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

30 Even youths will become weak and tired,and young men will fall in exhaustion.

31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31)

It’s in the Bible we read the account of the resurrection of Jesus himself. It was Jesus who said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live even though he dies.

The apostle Paul reflecting on Jesus said,

So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. (1 Corinthians 15:21-23)

These are just a few of the many verses that remind us that this life is not all there is. In fact, the Bible tells us that this life is only a foretaste of that which is to come. It is that truth combined with Jim’s faith that gives us hope even in our sadness.

Let’s pray together.

Our Father, there is such a rush of emotion today. There is profound sadness and loss that Jim has died. There is numbness from not being able to process the implications of what is taking place. There is a sense of relief that the suffering and the struggle is over. There are questions about why some people have so much they have to deal with in life. There is anxiety about what the future holds. There is regret that Jim will not be able to some of the things he so looked forward to enjoying. And there is a cry of faith to You who alone sees the end from the beginning.

Father, during this time please draw us close to You. Help us to rightly reflect on Jim’s life and help us to put our trust in your promises. Grant us your strength we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jim Parrish  was born on June 12, 1956 in LaHarpe, the son of Jack and Nancy Painter Parrish. Jim was a 1974 graduate of La Harpe High School. On August 3, 1980, he married Diana Magee in LaHarpe.

He worked at Ortho in Fort Madison, Iowa and for Chuck Jacobs and Wendell Booten in the Stronghurst area. He then worked for D & J Implement in Raritan, Illinois, the Henderson County F.S. and most recently for the Macomb F.S. He was a member of the LaHarpe Union Church.

Jim died at 1:55 p.m. on January 26th at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria after battling many health problems.

He is survived by his wife, Diana,

one daughter, Amanda (Lee) Woods of Warsaw, Illinois,

2 grandchildren, Codi Alexandria Woods and Colton Lee Woods,

his mother, Nancy Parrish of LaHarpe,

3 sisters, Lucretia McPeak and Betty Parrish both of LaHarpe and Brenda (Dave) Murphy of Burlington, Iowa

and one nephew, Christopher Braun of Burlington.

He was preceded in death by his father and 1 niece, Jackie Braun.

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It sounds to me like things were always “interesting” in the Parrish household as the kids were growing up. The three girls shared a bedroom and Jim (as the boy) had his own room. Consequently, the girls eagerly looked forward to Jim moving out so they could have his room. Jim had the last laugh. He didn’t move out until he got married at at age 24. Brenda and Lucretia had already moved out.

Every time the girls walked by Jim’s room  (which they had to do to get to their room) Jim made sure they knew that he hated them. On some occasions he would even ambush them. He’d hide under his bed with his rubber dart gun and shoot at the girls when they went by.

Jim did play with his sisters but only because there was no one else around. They liked to play “Handy Andy Over” and tetherball. The truth is that they played a great deal together. A bond grew between them that became quite strong.

Jim was always as strong as an ox. Todd Irish recalls that in intramural basketball games in high school Jim wasn’t very fast but when he had the ball you got out of his way!

Jim loved Chevy pickups and had several nice ones. He didn’t haul anything in them because he didn’t want to scratch up the bed of the truck. Jim believed the louder the vehicle the better it was. He did whatever he could to soup up his vehicles. I’m told he also liked to drive fast and because of that was given several opportunities to donate to county coffers to celebrate that heavy foot.

At some point Jim started to wear a pair of pliers all the time and everywhere he went. His sisters saw this as a weirdness to exploit so whenever he walked into the house his sisters would sing “Plier-Man” (like Spiderman). Jim took it in good humor. He always put his pliers and glasses in the same place every night so he could find them easily in the morning.

Any time I have been together with all the Parrish kids that playful ribbing is a prominent part of the conversation. But in the midst of all the abuse that they are dishing out to each other, there is also a deep and wonderful love that shines through the fun. They always support each other and love each other greatly.

Jim always liked to work. He loved agriculture and derived a great deal of satisfaction from the work. It was nearing his 19th birthday that he was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a diagnosis that would dog him all his life. From the very beginning he was insulin dependent. He was shaken at first but then accepted the situation and moved on.

Jim got many of his tastes from his dad. He hated raisins (even though he never ate one) and loved vegetables and oysters.

Darryl Magee was friends with Jim and dared to introduce him to his sister, Diana. It is said that after he met her, you never saw him alone, his bachelor days were numbered.

Jim and Diana had a good life together. It wasn’t always easy but it was blessed. Jim wanted to do all he could to meet Diane’s needs. He worked hard because he loved the work but also because he wanted to be a good provider.

Apparently there was a time Jim was driving one of the spray trucks and took out a light pole in La Harpe. Most people assume he was driving too fast and briefly lost control. That didn’t make him very popular in that part of town for awhile.

When Amanda came into the world Jim’s life gained a new level of joy. When he wasn’t working, wherever he went, she went. He disciplined her but he also pretty well gave her everything she wanted. She did have to learn to stand up for herself because her dad gave her a hard time just like he did everyone else.

Jim’s kidneys started to fail him and he had to go on dialysis. Eventually, Jim could no longer work. This was a very hard adjustment for him. I think he felt like less of a man because he couldn’t take care of his family the way he thought he should. I remember him telling me that he hoped he lived long enough to see Amanda graduate from High School. Thanks to a kidney transplant he was able to do that and more.

It was a very special day when Jim walked his daughter down the aisle. He had recently come out of the hospital but he was determined that he was not going to miss this special privilege and wonderful moment that he had dreamt about. It was an emotional moment for everyone who was there.

Jim loved having Lee as a son-n-law. Lee understood how special Jim was to Amanda and he went out of his way to spend time with Jim and to help him with things that needed work around the house. I think Jim rested in the fact that he knew there was someone who was going to take care of his daughter.

When Jim got his electric scooter it was a great day for him. Jim’s independence was regained. Many of us saw him tooling around La Harpe. I would often run into him (or if you weren’t looking . . . he might run into you) at the post office. You might see him at Ayerco, going down the main street sidewalk or zipping down First Avenue headed home.

If you knew Jim at all you knew that he had a very quick sense of humor and was constantly giving someone a hard time. Jim loved to play pranks. He told Lucretia that when she turned 16 he would buy her a car. On her 16th birthday he told her to go out and check the garage and sure enough Jim had bought her a shiny new Matchbox car.

Because of Jim’s resilient and fun-loving spirit he made the best of every circumstance, whether it was in Ayerco, the emergency room, a hospital bed, or at dialysis. He made friends everywhere he went. He always had a smile and never blamed others for the trials he endured.

Jim was very thoughtful. He remembered everyone’s birthday. He made it a point to give them a call first thing in the morning (between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m.!) This orneriness turning into something that made each birthday special. Jim made it a point to use his free time to keep in touch with family. He called his sisters regularly and in some cases daily (he got over hating them). After his dad died he checked in with his mom every day. Jim cared about family and worked hard to keep in touch.

If you talked to Jim lately you knew that he really liked being a Grandpa. When Colton was born he cried with joy. These last months of being able to enjoy his grandson were very special. Everywhere he went he talked about him and enjoyed showing off pictures. He cherished every moment….even when Colton had a stranglehold on the chain around Jim‘s neck or was trying to chew through his oxygen hose Jim felt he was a very blessed man.

Amanda made Jim a Cardinal blanket and whenever he was in the house he always had it over him. When Jim was admitted to the hospital he was asked if he had a medical power of attorney. He said he did, it was Colton!  Jim had no intention of dying. When it seemed apparent that he was in bad shape he once again accepted the situation and faced it with strength and grace.

We will never know how hard life sometimes was for Jim because he never complained. He was fortunate and blessed to have a wife who took such good care of her husband. Love is evidenced most clearly in the hard times. Jim Parrish was a quality guy. He didn’t make a lot of money but he had a truckload of friends. He had lots of trials but instead of dwelling on them, he focused on his great family. He cherished life, but was not afraid to die. He knew in every situation you have a choice: you can complain or you can find joy. Jim found joy and shared it freely with those around him.

Brenda shares special memories in these words,

My Brother- Our Brother

Time has come and gone since you were strong.

The many times we laughed, cried and fought are now over.

When we were little, you protected us, and even pushed us in the wagon, and
played ball.

I would chase you and Lucretia down the lane on your bicycles.

Being on the farm was fun for us kids, playing cowboys and Indians with the
pigs!

You became sick at 18 and the fun kind of ended.

You up and fell in love with a wonderful woman, who loved you and gave
you a beautiful daughter whom you adored.

I remember you taking her everywhere you went when you were not
working.

Time passed, and you became more disabled with your diabetes.

I am so glad I could take you to dialysis, and have that time with you.

Then your transplant was a blessing to your wife, daughter, and family.

As obstacles arose, you beat them, and I don’t ever remember you
complaining about any of it, you just went along with what you were dealt.

We did not see each other often, for our lives got too busy, which is
something not to brag about, because now, here we are, no time left.

Your daughter met her love, and they gave you a beautiful grandson, that
you are so proud of.

Memories by Brenda Murphy

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There is a wonderful passage written by the Apostle Paul that I think could have been written by Jim. Paul talked about our physical frames being like a jar of clay; fragile and imperfect. Jim, because of his diabetes and related problems understood that his body was a jar of clay and fragile.

Jim could have withdrawn, he could have given up, but he didn’t. That’s why Paul’s words seem so significant.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Jim was really a remarkable man wasn’t he? He worked hard. He battled his diabetes and didn’t want it to limit his life. He fought to be as independent as possible. When he needed to take insulin he didn’t whine about it . . . he just did it. When he needed dialysis he could have become despondent but he did what was necessary. When his bones became brittle he didn’t give up, he rehabbed diligently. When he had to use a walker he gave thanks for the opportunity to remain mobile. When he became pretty well confined to a wheelchair he could have become a shut-in, but he didn’t. We saw him regularly tooling around town so he could go up to Ayerco and lie about things with the rest of the guys. Jim drew on a strength and determination that was deep.

Jim could have been afraid of death and done anything possible to just stay alive. He didn’t want to die because he had much to live for, but he also didn’t want to be kept alive at the expense of living.

What gave Jim such a good attitude in difficult circumstances? Certainly his parents and grandparents had something to do with this. He saw their faith and their resiliency in life. Jim’s response to trials was very similar to the response I saw in his dad, Jack. Jim had faith in God from an early age. He didn’t go to church much these last years because it was a chore. But deep down inside of Him was a confidence in God. I believe he did trust Christ as the one who alone could save him.

The Bible is clear: not everyone goes to Heaven. Many people think they can earn Heaven by the trials they endure on earth or by the good deeds they do.  The Bible tells us that we can never be good enough to earn Heaven. And no trial is as great as what we deserve for our indifferent and sometimes hostile attitude toward God.

Think about it this way. In even our best days we sin by doing what we know is wrong, by ignoring God, or by valuing other things more than Him. Let’s say we had a really good day and only sinned three times in that day. If you could maintain that extraordinarily good record you would be known as one of the finest people on earth. However, at the end of one week you would have sinned 21 times. At the end of a year you would have sinned almost 1100 times. If you could keep up this uncommon goodness all your life and live to be 70 years old, you would stand before God with 77,000 sins to account for.

Some people think that every good deed cancels out a bad deed. It doesn’t work that way. When we do what is right we are doing what we are supposed to be doing; there is no “extra credit” in those acts. That would be like saying every time you actually drove the speed limit it should cancel out the times when you got a ticket for speeding! You don’t get extra credit for obeying the law. In the same way we cannot earn God’s forgiveness or Heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6) Jesus spoke clearly. He claimed to be the Son of God. The Bible tells us that He was the only person who ever lived who did not sin at all. He gave His life (which was infinitely valuable because He is the Son of God) as a payment for or the sin of anyone who would truly put their trust in Him.

Jim may not have understood it all in the way that I am describing it, but I believe He did trust Christ. That is what is necessary for salvation and new life.

When a person has genuine faith, it changes their perspective on the trials of life. After talking about the hope and confidence we have in life beyond the grave Paul adds these words,

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Paul said we keep going in life because we know that this life is not all there is. I believe Jim believed that. Today our job is to try to understand and believe as well. We must fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. We must focus not on the pain of loss but on the glory of Heaven.

Today, faith matters more than ever. Today it is not a theological concept, it is our lifeline. Today it really matters whether or not Jesus rose from the dead and whether he was telling the truth when he said that those who trust Him will also live, even though they die.

We talk about this being the end of Jim’s life. However, for the one who trusts in Christ, it is actually only the beginning. Jim looked forward to reaching various milestones: Amanda’s graduation, getting a new kidney, Amanda’s wedding, and the birth of Colton, He reached those goals. Try to imagine. The incredible and wonderful joy of those days has been overshadowed by the joy of Heaven. When Jim stepped into eternity life took a turn for the better. I wonder if Jack was there to welcome home his son. One thing I know for sure, Jesus was there to welcome Jim. That moment is more incredible that anything our minds or hearts can imagine.

What I proclaim is this: Jim is more alive today than he has ever been. The pain is gone, the limitations have given way to freedom, and the broken body has been cast aside for a new body that is without blemish. The questions have all been answered. Joy has taken a steep upward climb. The Bible tells us that in Heaven there is no sadness or tears. The regrets of this world are left behind for the joy of understanding, knowing, and loving the Lord.

The future for us will be different without Jim. There will be pain, sadness, and maybe some regrets. However, the way to get through those times is to “fix our eyes on Jesus”.

So I encourage you to look at your own heart and life. Learn something from Jim. As yourself if you are living until you die, or are you living for the life that is beyond death? Are you trying to make your own way to Heaven, or are you trusting the One who is the way? These are important questions and this is the best of times to ask them.

I encourage you to share your memories of Jim. Remember him affectionately. Learn the lessons of his life

  • Remember the way he gave everyone an affectionate hard time. Make the decision to enjoy people.
  • Remember the joy on his face when we was with his daughter or grandchildren. Choose to cherish your own family a little more.
  • Remember Jim’s great strength, both physically and emotionally. Then remember the apostle Paul’s words when he said that in the times of weakness he came to learn that God’s strength was sufficient. Trust God’s greatness.
  • Remember how Jim “made the decision” the live joyfully. Choose to do the same.

Jim Parrish was a common man with an uncommon attitude. Because of that fact, he has impacted us all. We would wise to remember what he taught us.

Let’s pray,

Our Lord, we don’t understand a lot of things about life. We don’t know why some people are given a truckload of trials to bear and others seem to go through life with relative ease. But we do know that some of the most vibrant lessons about faith seem to be delivered through people who endure much.  Thank you for blessing us through the life of Jim Parrish.

Father, please grant Jim your mercy and your grace. Open his eyes to the impact that he’s had.

Grant your protection and provision to his family. Help fill the void in their lives. Keep their memories of good times vivid. Grant that the memories of these last weeks might fade.

Grant us a portion of Jim’s spirit. Help us to live faithfully and to face the trials of our lives with faith rather than despair. Guide us to a faith that is deep and real, we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.