PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
My sweet mother outlived almost all of her friends. At 94, signs of dementia were beginning to show. She was losing weight, and life was harder for her. But, she was made of strong stock. The kind of stock that survived the Depression. That’s a good kind of stock. She seldom complained about anything, but lived her life in gratitude to God that there was food for her family during those lean years.
On Friday nights, after work, I drove the 45-minute drive south on I-75 to spend Friday night and Saturday with her. These hours were pure delight for me. I loved her so much, and she loved me. I was her baby.
I pulled up a chair beside her as she watched TV. Conversations weren’t easy, because she had lost so much of her hearing. On this particular Saturday afternoon, I turned the TV as loudly as I could stand it, and held her frail, brown-spotted, but soft and beautiful hand. We watched together in silence. Then, I decided to make sure.
“Can you hear the TV, Mama?” I asked.
“Is the TV loud enough? Can you hear it?” I was almost screaming.
She smiled, and spoke softly. “No, but I can hear that man singing behind me.”
“What man?” I yelled.
“That man singing behind me. It is so pretty. Can’t you hear it?”
Was it an angel? It had to be. I could think of no other reason Mama could hear a man singing. There was no radio on, and there was no other noise in the house other than the blaring TV.
“I’m not sure I like this, Lord. If Mama is hearing an angel’s voice, that could mean only one thing.
“Are you getting her ready to go to your Home? How can I ever stand that, Lord? How can I get through it? I’m not ready for this. I don’t think I can live on this earth without my mama.”
I knew how that sounded. Unreasonable. Senseless. Demanding. Childish. Selfish.
Most of my friends had faced their mother’s deaths much sooner. I sounded like a fractious child, telling God I wanted God’s will in all areas of my life, but qualifying that thought with, “in every place but with my mama.”
I went before the Lord to apologize for being so childish. I should have gotten a good “talking to.” Instead, a soft breeze of grace enveloped me right there as I sat by my mama. I wanted to keep stating my case, asking for more time with her.
But Grace said: “Haven’t you learned by now that I always go before you? Always. When the time comes that I take her Home, you will have what you need. Trust me.”
So I sat by her tiny, sweet self, held her amazingly soft hands, and took in every single moment of the gift of her.
Time stood still right there in her living room. Mama, the singing angel, and me.
And there was incredible peace.
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at firstname.lastname@example.org.