Role reversal draws one woman closer to her parents — and to God. 

First Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SYLACAUGA, Ala. — The little girl tugged at her father’s leg.

“Don’t go, Daddy,” she begged. “Don’t go.”

Jack Zorn — known to generations in Churches of Christ as “The Man in the Red Jacket” who founded the Lads to Leaders program — was leaving to speak at a church in another state. His daughter Rhonda wanted him to stay home and play.

“Dad sat in the floor and explained his commitment to the church and supporting his family,” Rhonda Fernandez recalled. “He said, ‘Rhonda, you don’t want me to disappoint all those people expecting me and not do my work, do you?’”

Decades later, Fernandez, now 53, found her role reversed as she explained to her parents — who entered hospice care a year ago — that she had to go home to Orlando, Fla., after six weeks at their central Alabama home.

Jack Zorn, 81, is mostly blind, has hearing difficulties, battles regular strokes and sleeps between 20 and 21 hours a day. Besides that, he has an arthritic hip that causes severe pain.

Frances Zorn, 79, suffers from heart problems and dementia. The extent of her memory loss fluctuates from day to day.

Both Zorns were in a serious car wreck in 2009 that exacerbated their health concerns.

“I needed to go home to my job, my dog, my own kitchen, my church family and, most of all, my precious husband, Halo,” said Fernandez, a member of the Concord Street Church of Christ.

But when Fernandez broke the news that she was flying home the next day, her mother wept and said she couldn’t sleep if Rhonda weren’t there. Her father assured her Halo would understand if she stayed just a little longer. Get him on the phone, Jack Zorn urged.

Read the full story.

Sidebar:

“My Church of Christ Mother Teresa,” daughter says of caregiver

These stories appear in the January 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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