Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sometimes I Catch a Glimpse, Part 2

I've been visiting my mom a couple weekends here and there recently. I go to see her with Elaine every Friday, but sometimes I've been able to go by myself and spend a couple of nights. My mom is under hospice care now and she is feeling an urgency to go through all of her things to decide what to do with them, but she doesn't have the energy to do it and needs my help.

It's sort of a no-brainer to say I've been so sad lately--going through all the finite things my mom has owned and loved to try and decide what to do with them. But through the sadness, I'm trying to pray--pray specifically for my mom. What do I want to ask for her? That she will feel peace? That she won't feel pain? And suddenly, a few weeks ago, it came over me--what I should pray for her. I need to pray that heaven will be so real to her, that it will be far more real than this earth. I need to pray that she just can't wait to get there. This thought became so overwhelming to me that now I pray it every day, throughout the day...sometimes I just plead and beg for it, for a glimpse of heaven for my mom.

I've never told her that I pray for it; I just do.

I've tried to find out more about it for myself too, which frankly isn't too hard because I actually have always loved thinking about heaven. A lot. Last fall I went to hear a Native American poet, and before she read one of her poems she said, "This poem is know that feeling you get? So homesick? Even if you're right at home?" and I almost raised my hand and said, "You too? I thought that was just me!" Ever since I was a child I've had that feeling come and go, and I've just figured it will never go away until I get to heaven.

I read this beautiful little passage by Anne Graham Lotz recently, about how whenever she would go to her parents' home, even near the end of her mom's life, her mom always left the outside light on--so when Anne would round the curve of the road, she would see that light shining and know her mom was waiting for her. Then Anne did the same for her son, and she always cooked his favorite things when he came home. She says, "When Jesus says, ‘I’m preparing a place for you, He knows the colors you like, the people you want to be with, the landscape you enjoy, and the music you want to hear,” Anne says. “When you walk through heaven’s gate you will know that you’ve been expected, that you’re welcomed because you’re the Father’s child. I think it’s that personal."

Not too long ago, my frind Brad posted something on his facebook status about his little boy. He said, "My son told my wife, 'You know who I'll miss when I die? Dasher' (our dumb potty train-proof dog). My wife told him, 'Honey, dogs don't live as long as you and I, so you'll have many pets,' and he replied 'Oh, ok, I'll see lots of pets when I am in JesusWorld.'

I don't know about you, but I firmly believe that when I open the front door of my mansion in heaven, my dogs, Boo Radley and Gatsby, will be right there to meet me. I cannot wait. I miss them so much. (Any pastors and/or theologians reading? Do not even try to talk me down from this faith position.)

So anyway, I've been thinking and praying about heaven and spending some weekends with my mom, and we're having a blast in the same old way--talking about books and watching "Cranford" and then watching "The Making of Cranford" and then watching "Return to Cranford" and then pulling apart every character and every actor from "Cranford." And "Return to Cranford." And talking about books again.

Then as we often do, especially when it gets late at night, we start talking about the Bible: what we're learning (yes, my mom is still learning and teaching me what she knows), the parts we love, and the parts we don't understand. We somehow got on the topic of Moses, and then we had to laugh because we've both felt a little bit like how Moses must have felt after he met with God and then came down the mountain, only to see everyone dancing around the golden calf. I said, "You know how after you've had a really great quiet time? Then you come downstairs and everyone is just acting like total heathens? I could totally smash the Ten Commandments right there." And Mom said, "Or grind up the powder, give it to them, and say, 'DRINK IT!'"

Then we talked about how awesome it was that Moses asked to see God's glory, and God hid Him in the rock but let Him catch a glimpse of His back. We wondered, what exactly was that that he saw?

And Mom said to me, "Does it bother you, honey, going through my dying with me? I never really liked to be around sick people. I feel so bad that you kids have to go through this." Then she closed her eyes and the most beautiful smile spread across her face as she whispered, "You know, sometimes when I close my eyes, I see the Lord Himself. And He's standing there, His hands stretched out to me, and He's saying, 'Come home!'"

The next day we went out in the car; Mom can't really go out any more and she hates that, but I took her out for just a little bit. Not too far from home, my favorite song came on (from Travis Cottrell's "Alive Forever"--a CD that never leaves my rotation). My mom said, "Oh, how I love this one!" so we turned it up and let the music and lyrics wash over us.

We neared home, just as it was cranking up to the best part so we drove around a couple more blocks so we could hear it all--there's no way you can turn the song off in the middle. And as the end came: "No guilt in life, no fear in power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand...till He returns or calls me home...," Mom leaned her head back and whispered, "Awesome. Glory! The man who wrote that, he caught a glimpse, didn't he?"

Later on that evening, I heard my mom sitting at the piano--I don't think I've heard her play in at least two years--picking out the notes to that song. And I looked out the window into the night sky and thought I might have seen the hem of His garment go by.

Exodus 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."


RobAld said...

Wonderful words and thoughts, Alice.

Just wondering if you're expecting to see "Ploutz" too? :-)

(By the way, the text is still yellow -- tried it from two different places...)

Alice said...

I think Ploutz will be over at my dad's mansion. :-)

(And I'm going to find time to try and fix the text! Either that or just change the background again...)

Juliet said...

Precious, Precious time with your mom. Thanks for sharing.

Melanie said...

I was so glad to read this post today, Alice. One of Scott's best friends, Rob, lost his mom yesterday. She was in MN visiting the grandchild from her deceased son and Rob didn't reach MN in time to say goodbye. I've been praying for Shirley that God, her son and all of her loved ones are there, vibrant as ever, to guide her on her way. I've always thought of heaven as another sort of birth and that when you come down here they are there to send you off and that when you return - well, they are all there to welcome you into that world as well.

Danny Lucas said...

“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?”
~~~Robert Browning

This is true of a "mom's reach" too Alice!

I saw a card once that said outside:
In My Father's house are many mansions,
while the inside simply added...

and I hope yours is close to mine!

We have just completed 2 months of hospice with my youngest brother's wife, Sherry. She is Cherokee Indian and a lover of Christ. She is now in her mansion. The pain of pancreatic cancer is over.

A week later, my cousin Ann informed all of us that she, like Sherry, has pancreatic cancer.
However, Ann lives alone, not with a hubby.

So three of my siblings and I went to do what can be done as the sunset of a lifetime, arrays into glorious colors.
Her hardest part is the pets..."wanna cat?" she asked futilely of me?

But the pleasure of the day returned as I anointed her with oil, and watched the child raised by a Jehovah Witness, raise her arms and praise Jesus Christ as she was anointed and prayed over.

Life is good, but the best is always yet to come.

I ask that you inform your mom that she has been an inspiration to many, as she goes about bringing a dignity to dying with grace.

I walked my own mother the last year of her life, into the secret closets of meaning in her life. We explored many things she had shared with none of my ten siblings, and I placed her words into her eulogy with some of those precious thoughts and words she revealed.

People look at the movie, Titanic, and are in awe at the final moments of perishing. But the reality is, we live on a planet that could be renamed Titanic, as all on the planet have a foot in the water.

In the movie, however, one elderly couple simply went to their cabin and laid down, held each other, and closed their eyes.
I think of Manga when I look at that scene. It is such a Manga thing to do, eh?

Prayers for you, your family, and your momma never end here.

Your children are learning a lifetime of love from their Manga in a brief time.

And I am happy that you, though caught between two generations needing care, can catch your balance and be refreshed, by leaning on your elderly mom (and dad), or leaning the other direction on your beautiful daughters. You are deeply loved by both generations, many friends, folks here, and many you have helped along the way in life.

Though deaf, I hear "Well done, good and faithful servant" any time I thing of Alice.
God has a real thing for you already! Rest freely in his grace and love and splash around in His glory a bit.

You are not alone.....ever!

Oh yeah....In My Father's house are many mansions, and I hope Alice's is next to mine.
We shall gab and laugh forever.

God bless you abundantly,

Kacie said...

We sang that at our wedding. It's my fav.

I love these stories about your mom, even though I'm sore it's even painful to write them.