Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mac: in a better place!

Kim McNier

"He's not getting visitors, and he's not getting the medical attention he needs. Call Doug!"

The prisoner, frantically speaking with his mother by telephone in November, 2007, was referring to Kim McNier.

Within days, I visited with Mac at one of the Muskegon prisons. Everything that I had heard was true. Mac was surviving in the end-stage of Hepatitis C, but was also suffering from at least one hernia, kidney problems and pancreatitis. He wasn't getting enough pain medication, and gritted his teeth so badly while sleeping that he broke some of them.

From that day on, HFP got involved in Mac's case.

The story was sad, in so many ways. Mac was not wrongly accused...he was guilty as sin. And his list of indiscretions didn't stop there. It extended to family and friends. He burned just about every bridge that could be torched. Now, crippled and sick, he was alone. And lonely.

During that time in prison came a change in life. Some might call it fox-hole faith. But if I remember correctly, some 2,000 years ago a crook on a cross right next to that of Jesus found faith, and the Lord didn't call it fox-hole anything. "I tell you the truth," he said, "today you will be with me in paradise." In our discussions, Mac expressed sorrow at the way he had lived, and knew without a doubt that his wayward life caused harm and hurt beyond imagination. He recognized that he had little time to rebuild bridges, and yet he tried.

Soon, his sister joined the efforts of HFP, and eventually his parents---though elderly and ailing---visited him. Michele and I worked as a team, although she did most if not all of the heavy work. We knew we were racing against time.

Just a week ago, on Monday the 6th, she and I pleaded with the Michigan Parole Board, in a public hearing, to recommend a commutation so that her brother could get better and more thorough care at a VA facility. But it was too little, too late.

Michele received a telephone call early Saturday morning, just 6 days later: Kim had gone home.

I like to think that Jesus welcomed him: "Today you are with me in paradise."

So long, Mac!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440

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