Rory Feek, the husband and duet partner of the late Joey Feek, changed one man’s life forever when he honored his wife’s final request.
Since Joey’s death, and long before she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rory Feek has been sharing their story on his blog This Life I Live. He documented Joey’s diagnosis, her treatment, and her will to live and love even when death was looming nearby. Rory shared the details of their life that most would’ve kept private- he wanted their story to have a meaning and touch the lives of others.
When Joey realized she didn’t have much longer to live, she started telling Rory what she wanted to take place at her funeral. She had specific requests- she wanted a handmade wooden casket made by their farmhand Tim with a quilt made by her close friend lining it. She also wanted a specific song, sang by a specific person, performed at her grave site.
“It was her last request,” Rory wrote in a post titled “leave it there.” “The last thing on the list Joey gave me, of what she wanted at her funeral service… when the time came. And we both knew that time was coming soon. ‘I’d like for someone to sing the hymn Leave It There at my graveside,’ Joey said. And then she stopped and added, ‘no… not someone,’ and she looked at me and smiled, ‘I want Bradley Walker to sing it for me.'”
“When you’re body suffers pain, and your health you can’t regain.When your soul is slowly sinking in despair. Jesus knows the pain you feel. He can save and He can heal. Take your burden to the Lord, and leave it there.”
It was just a week later that Bradley Walker fulfilled Joey’s final request and sang the hymn. Little did he know, his life would soon be changed forever. In the large crowd of people attending Joey’s funeral was Joey and Rory’s close friend and mentor Bill Gaither.
“When Bradley sang ‘Leave It There’ at Joey’s service that day, there were a lot of friends at her graveside,” Rory wrote. “One of those, was Bill Gaither. And somewhere in the service I’m told… while Bradley’s deep baritone voice was singing my bride to heaven… Bill leaned over and asked someone, ‘who’s that?’ And just like that… Bradley’s life changed. Or at least, I think it’s about to.”
The men who run Gaither’s label were also present at the funeral, and they too thought they heard something special. Now, three months later, with the help of Rory, Walker recorded an entire album and filmed a television special in Joey and Rory’s concert hall. Despite having muscular dystrophy and being confined to a wheelchair, Walker isn’t letting anything stand in his way.
“They tell me that the album is gonna come out this fall,” Feek wrote. “And our friend Bradley, who works at a power-plant in Athens, Alabama is gonna be all over his Mama’s television, and everyone else’s. All because he sang one song. All because of my wife’s last request.”
“I could tell you that it’s just coincidence or happenstance, but I’d be lying. I believe these things have come to be for a reason. That Joey somehow knew what was going to happen. Or at the very least, wanted to use her moment of being lifted up, to lift up someone else. I also think that maybe she’s up there somewhere, whispering in God’s ear…’I know you’re busy Sir… but you might want to hear this one.'”
[Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press]