“Why can’t you breathe?” my father ushered my mother into a small room where all the hymnals were kept. The service had already begun. She clung to my father deeply, almost piercing his skin through his thick wool overcoat and jacket. It was Christmas Eve and he had a lot to do at Church. His focus was now on his wife who gasped and wheezed.
“Judy, I am calling 911!” She shook her head for him not to, but he grabbed his archaic flip phone and dialed. He described the incident in great detail, his face now burdened with concern.
Within three minutes, the ambulance was there and they ushered my mother onto the gurney. The trip to the hospital would take minutes, but this journey would last the rest of her life.
While driving to the hospital, my father called each one of his children. I was the first to be reached. I had just finished cleaning up our Christmas Eve meal and getting ready to go to my neighbor’s annual celebration at her home. My husband and I climbed into our truck and took off for the ICU at Christiana Hospital. My mother was in congestive heart failure.
Within five days she had two open heart surgeries, put on dialysis, and was in grave condition. Though my mother was a regular church goer, it was not necessarily because she wanted to grow in her faith, it was a social club of sorts. My mother loved people and people loved her. She enjoyed volunteering at the church bazar, driving flowers to shut-ins, driving those that couldn’t to their appointments, volunteering her nursing knowledge to anyone that needed it, and of course attending the church where she was the most popular amongst all the parishioners.
She spent four excruciating months in and out of the ICU. Her body was shutting down. This little dynamo of a woman who could do anything was now incapacitated. Her zest for life, family, and friends was reducing to just surviving.
Prompted by the Lord, I woke early on a cold Sunday at the end of February. Get her saved. I heard the Holy Spirit begging me into action. I got out of bed and asked my husband to come with me. We had been praying for months for an opportunity to share the hope we have in Jesus.
The beauty of knowing the Lord is that He already knows how it is going to work out. I came into her room, and her face was rosy and she was alert.
“Jill! What are you doing here? Dan, I am so glad to see you!” and she genuinely was excited. With her many surgeries and lack of oxygen her memory was horrendous. She actually thought that she hadn’t seen me for months.
We both gave her a hug, and feeling immensely aware of the gravity of the situation, I asked her if she wanted to get saved.
“I would love to get saved!” she was giddy with excitement.
“Repeat after me- Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and need your grace. I know that you took the punishment that I deserved on the cross. You are the Son of God! Come live in my heart, dwell with me forever!”
Then she clapped her hands in excitement. “That was the best prayer! Let’s say it again!”
I stayed for an hour and during that time, she kept telling me that the prayer we had said was the best thing she had ever heard, and we probably said it a dozen times before she fell back to sleep, with a smile upon her lips.
It was June 3, my birthday and mom is now on hospice. Her time is limited, her breathing labored, and she no longer responds to us. It is 7:30 in the morning, I stand by her bed and rub her arm.
“Mom, today is the day that you will walk on streets of glory in the splendor of heaven. You will see the Son and the Father. You will hear the voice of angels telling you to come and see the mansion Jesus has built for you. No longer will you be in pain. You will be dancing on strong legs, with a heart full of love. Yeah though I walk through the valley of death, your rod and staff comfort me….Go mom, you’re free! Go!”
That’s when the room crackled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was there ushering in his beloved child, my mom.
She had peace on her face, and I began to jump and praise the Lord. My excitement was uncontainable and it spilled out into the room like a palpable blanket. Everyone came into the den, and felt the Holy Spirit and His peace. My mom had done the impossible. Rejecting Jesus Christ as her savior all of her life and thinking that church would save her. But at the end of her life sensing her need, she accepted the gift of eternal life- Jesus Christ. My heart rested in faith, I would see my mom again. This time she would be walking on streets of glory.
This greatest birthday gift my mom has ever given me, she is sitting sweetly on the side of the Father, making pies, and I am sure helping others decorate their new mansions in glory. Hallelujah!