Saturday, June 11, 2011

After life

Hosea 13:14 " ...Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction? "

I was blessed with the best grandmother ever. We called her Mamaw.

All of my young life, my family regularly traveled the three hours northeast from Brewton, Alabama to Opelika, Alabama, where my Mamaw and Bampa lived. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by my grandparents, and immediately ushered into the lighted kitchen, where we were fed, regardless of whether or not we had eaten dinner. After eating what was usually a warm bowl of macaroni soup, we never had trouble sleeping.

Our Mamaw and Bampaw, they were quite a pair.

They were married 68 years when my grandfather passed away. Mamaw passed away a few years after that.

When Mamaw went into the hospital for the last time, she knew that things were bad and she told my mom to call all of us and let us know to come. So, I packed up my one year old son Levi and went to Opelika straight to the East Alabama Medical Center to visit her in the hospital. I had someone to come and get Levi so I could stay as long as I felt comfortable. She was having trouble breathing. Her lungs were damaged from radiation treatment that she had received as part of treatment for breast cancer years before. The cancer was eradicated for a few years and then returned into her bones.

My uncle Jack was at the hospital, sitting with her and trying to help her to feel secure. But she kept asking for my mom, who had been at the hospital all day and had gone home to get some rest. I stayed a while, and then went home to her house.

Uncle Jack came to the house the next morning and announced that Mamaw was resting comfortably. I think that she was in a coma. I went to the hospital and had to leave because my son needed a nap and could not sleep at the hospital. I left with him and got a motel room where he could sleep without any distractions. While at the motel, my cousin, Toppy arrived to inform me that Mamaw passed away. My mom had sent her there to tell me so that she wouldn't have to do it over the phone. I cried and thanked her and got Levi ready to go to the hospital to see her before she was removed for the funeral home.

When I arrived, there was a full room of family waiting to go into her room. There were also close neighbors and the aides who worked at the house helping her to do housework and dress. I went around the room hugging people one by one, telling each one that my grandmother loved him or her dearly. Every single one of them responded by saying, "I know, she told me all the time."

What a gift she had to let people know how much they meant to her while she was still alive.

We went into her hospital room to say our last goodbyes and to see her peaceful before they left with her to go to the funeral home.

I returned to the motel and got a nap with Levi. After we awoke, I was praying on my knees. I was praying for her soul and that God would take her in his loving arms in heaven. It was then that I saw an image of Mamaw in my mind. She was dressed up and her hair was fixed nice and she had on makeup and looked very pretty. She told me that she was so happy; for me not to worry about her because she was OK. She said that if she had known about how wonderful that place was before she came, she would have gone a long time ago.

At that point my grief was immediately replaced with joy. I thanked God for her life and for taking care of her.

I related this story to my family and told them what a comfort it was to receive such a message. Some of them were comforted by this.

And now, I go through life with the assurance that what we are doing on this earthly plain is very important. But I believe that the real living will be with Jesus in heaven.

I still miss Mamaw. But I still have comfort from this image of her after death. And I am assured that if I press on toward the prize, I will see her again.

"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"-- I Corinthians 15:55

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