My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Rev. Jimmie Ray Loyd, age 61 of Jacksboro, died June 27 at his home. He was an Ordained Baptist Minister in 1980 and was founder and pastor for the past 25 years of the Pioneer Baptist Church. He was loved by family, friends & all who knew him.” — The LaFollette Press, Lafollette, TN, July 3, 2004
Obituaries are news carefully written in an age-old, one-size-fits all style, that informs readers about what happened without—in most modern newspapers—conveying the full emotional import of the event and the days leading up to it from the perspective of family and friends.
When Jimmie Ray Loyd was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, he asked his daughter to share his story. In “Love and Synergy,” Rebecca Loyd accomplishes this request in a straight-forward, heartfelt manner that honors her father and family while offering comfort to others facing a terminal illness.
“Love and Synergy” is a story about the last year of a man’s life, and it begins with a memory of Jimmie and his wife Beatrice building a fire in the potbelly stove of the church that Loyd founded while their children Yvonnia, Jimmy and Rebecca play nearby and try to ignore the cold.
During the first fifteen years of his ministry at the Pioneer Baptist Church, the Reverend Loyd continued his day job in the construction business. However, the congregation wanted him available on a full-time basis. Rebecca Loyd writes that “when Dad was first diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, we became angry that his retirement has been taken from him. In retrospect, he had been given the opportunity for ten glorious years to focus on what he loved most—serving as pastor of Pioneer Baptist Church.”
The journey Jimmie Loyd and his family took during his last year moves quickly from old memories to a doctor’s appointment to learn why he looks and feels so tired. After his physical, Loyd says he’s okay and that he will check in with the doctor again after they get back from a trip to Oregon to visit his son Jimmy and his wife Amy.
Once in Oregon, it’s obvious Loyd is more than simply tired. Hospital tests show he has leukemia and more testing shows that the form of leukemia he has is “a vicious disease…that affects red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and bone marrow.” The family fathers, an aggressive treatment program is prescribed, and remission comes and goes on a hope-against-hope roller-coaster ride of emotions during good days and bad days.
Known up and down the hall as “the preacher man from Tennessee,” Loyd fights his vicious disease with a positive attitude and determination that endears him to the hospital’s staff and volunteers. The staff sees the love and support of his family as they face each turning point and hard decision including the one to go home to Tennessee when there is nothing else the hospital can do. His doctors and nurses give him a standing ovation on the day he is discharged.
“Love and Synergy” is a story about the Reverend Jimmie Loyd, and his faith runs through it like a deep river. “Love and Synergy” is also a story about a family’s unconditional love and support for each other, and it ends as an inspiration to all who face similar journeys. The author’s father would like that.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Sun Singer” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”