The days passed by so quickly I couldn’t believe it had been five years since she had had her stroke, an ugly event that would change things for all of us. In an instant my mom—as I knew her—had become old and almost lifeless with tubes going in and coming out of what seemed like every part of her body. The stroke had stolen 75 percent of her right brain and had left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. My father, two brothers, and three sisters listened as the neurologist gave us the news that she probably would not make it; and the first 36 hours were the most critical. After 72 hours—if she was still with us—she would probably survive but, would have poor quality of life. We prayed for a miracle and waited.
Before that horrible night, my husband and I would spend every other Thanksgiving with my mom and dad. This was a new tradition for he and I as our own children had grown up and were starting their own families. My dad would cook the turkey—as he had always done when I was a kid—only now a much smaller bird was placed in the microwave instead of the oven. Nevertheless, it always came out moist and delicious just as I remembered from years’ past. My mother would prepare the stuffing and the side dishes and we swapped stories as the bird slowly cooked to perfection.
Life in South Florida had been somewhat good to them as they enjoyed the tropical weather; however, years of poor planning for retirement had required both of them to continue working well into their mid-70’s. I longed for my mother to be able to quit work so that she could travel and see her grand- and great-grandchildren. The day she had her stroke would be the day she no longer had the need for a job. I wept that she had carried this burden all of her married life and I wept for what lifted that off of her.
When she finally regained consciousness she could not speak and her eyes had lost their fullness. She stared at the air as if it were calling her. We spoke to her, held her hand, told jokes, cried outside of her ICU room and waited.That constant stare took me back to a time when I was a teenager and I could remember my mom in her bed crying. She just couldn’t stop crying. My dad had each of us go in one at a time to try and talk to her and console her. We didn’t know what to do, so we did as he said. Then after two or three days she stopped crying and just stared into space. She had had a nervous breakdown. I saw that same stare in her the day she woke up from her stroke. A woman in a helpless and hopeless state surrounded by her children.
She survived the stroke and was sent to a rehabilitation center but, some weeks later was admitted as a resident on the Nursing Home side of the facility. Heartland was the name of facility. Funny how it was her heart condition that had landed her in this place and even the name wouldn’t not let us forget it.
The years drug on as my mom was forced to live a new life in a wheelchair with a roommate that couldn’t talk, then another who was never in the room, then another who was there for such a short period of time I only saw her family once, I think. Lives came and went and mom remained. I watched as her spirit slowly died and I could do nothing to stop it. I continued to pray for my mom although I don’t think I even remembered what I had said.
One day my sister told me that mom had started going to church. I was so happy but, wondered how that was even possible. Then she told me it was in the common area of the Nursing Home. Church to my mom meant a minister would come in, read a scripture verse, and bring a message. I don’t think there was ever any praise music or hymns played on the piano that sat quietly in that room. But, she had returned to the God that she had loved as a child. I saw a little spark return to her eyes and she would gently smile as I entered her room on my weekend visits.
I received the call from my sister while I was in a meeting at work. For several days my mom had been turning blue whenever the nurses reclined her bed at night. They had spoken to my dad about it and had encouraged him to think about hospice. He was in denial so the head nurse had called my twin sister. Hospice? Are we already at that point? She seemed fine to me last weekend. I got on a plane and arrived just before the doctor came in and my dad was talking to him about what to do. After a lengthy discussion we all agreed with the doctor to have her admitted to the hospital to treat the infection around her heart that was caused by her aspirating into her lungs.
All my siblings were gathered around her again—five years after her initial escape from death—this time facing a possible hospice stay. My older sister had shared that my mom had recently grown agitated at being in the Nursing Home and longed to go back to the hospital. She said she believed my mother felt safer there for some reason. So, safe in her hospital room we all sat around and reminisced, laughing and crying all day with my mom. That evening she looked over at me and I’ll never forget the love in her eyes as she said, “I’ve seen all my chicks now.”
Later that night they took her from her room to go to another floor for testing and she became so distressed the staff had to give her something to calm her down. I stroked her hand and told her she wasn’t alone and I would be right beside her. As we waited in the hall of the x-ray and laboratory wing my mom began telling me stories. Stories of the plans that she and my dad had made for their funerals, stories of dreams she had had, stories of strange happenings at the Nursing Home late at night in her room. I was caught off guard, and didn’t know what to say, so I listened.
She talked about regrets and how she was sorry that they weren’t going to be able to leave anything to us kids. There would be no inheritance. But, she wanted me to know that their funerals had been taken care of. They had bought plots a few years back and had paid for the services and had even picked out their caskets. She said, “Mine is beautiful. The inside is an off- white satin material and so soft. It looks like Heaven itself. I know it will feel like Heaven.” I had to fight back the tears as I could sense the end was near. My mother was so strong and proud at this moment describing to me the bed of her final resting place with not a tear in her eye. She was proud that she could finally give her children a gift in the end even though there would be no inheritance.
She went on to tell me that she had had a dream. She said she had seen Jesus standing on the other side of a large lake. He was wearing a white robe with His arms stretched out toward her and He was calling her to come to Him. She told me that in her dream she was afraid and she told Him she couldn’t swim. And He smiled and told her it would be okay. He was not going to let her drown. She paused at that moment and I asked her what happened next in her dream. She said she couldn’t remember. She thought maybe she woke up. In my disbelief, I asked her when she had had this dream because I wanted to know if it was last night or last year. You know? Was Jesus coming for my mom or was she just dreaming? She looked at me rather oddly and said, “I don’t remember.” As if God himself were saying to me, “My son visited your mom and she wants you to know so you can testify on her behalf.”
The tests revealed that she was still aspirating and her lungs were infected because of it, which was causing her to not be able to breath in a laid down position. This had sent her to the hospital time and time again and because it could not be cleared up with treatment, the doctor said the next step was a feeding tube. In my haste to get to the amazement of my mother seeing Jesus I forgot to mention that the only thing my mom had to look forward to each and every day of the last five years of her life was meal time. She longed to see what was for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was partly because my dad was sure to be there for every meal and assist her in taking the lids off the plate, bowls and cups. You see, she never regained use of her left hand and lower arm. And she never again went to bed with my father. Their time together would be meal time. It broke our hearts to hear this news of a feeding tube and that night the decision was made to move her to hospice.
I was blessed to be with my mom that night, the last night of her life on this earth. We all knew she would get excited when the nurses came to move her to another room so I volunteered to stay with her. Our suspicions came true, and when I told her they were going to move her to another room she began arguing with me. She said she was perfectly fine in this room and she didn’t want to be moved. What I said to her came from the mouth of God himself as my heart was breaking for her. I said, “Mom, this room is for sick people and they need to move you to another room since you are on your way to being healed.” She immediately said, “Well okay then, let’s go.” I explained to her that it would be a little while. That the nurses needed to get her other room ready and that I would walk with her as they wheeled her to the other room so she didn’t have to be afraid.
She then said, “I’m going to pray for whoever is coming in this room after me.”
I said, “Okay, you can do that.”
“No, I mean right now. I’m going to pray for them right now.”
“Okay, you can pray for them right now.”
Then she looked up toward the ceiling, but I know she was looking into the Heaven-lies as she spoke this sweet prayer, “Lord, Jesus, I don’t know who is coming into this room after I leave, but you do. I don’t know if it is a man or a woman, but you do. But, I do know that they will be sick. So I pray that you will take care of them just as you have taken care of me. And, it’s in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
As tears swelled up in my eyes, I had to choke them back so she would not sense how I was feeling. I was in the presence of a truly Godly woman, and she was my mom. This woman who was on her deathbed; this woman who had see Jesus stretching out his arms to her; this woman who was happy to have seen her chicks had just had a moment with God. I didn’t know whether to fall to my knees in anguish or in awe of what had happened, but I was thankful I was able to be a part of the experience and have this as one of my last memories of my mother.
The nurses came in and we walked together to the hospice floor. And, it was a beautiful place. I only left my mother for a few minutes while they transferred her from the hospital bed to the hospice bed. And, the nurses came in the waiting room and said she was asking for Annette. I know it’s because I was the last of her children that she had seen,but that was the beginning of my healing process I think.
That night me, Debbie and Kim stayed overnight in the hospice waiting room. We rotated every two hours to sit beside my mom’s bed then back to the waiting room. As we began reading the pamphlets that were laying around Debbie said, “This sounds sort of like what she was telling about with the man in her room every night at the Nursing Home before she came to the hospital.” I had no idea what she was referring to so she told me.
She had been telling my dad and the nursing staff at the Nursing Home the week before being transferred to the hospital that a man wearing a hat had been coming into her room during the middle of the night and she wanted someone to get him to stop. It was scaring her that a man was sitting beside her bed every night. My dad and the nurses assured her no one was coming in her room. No words were needed as we continued reading about what one might experience with their loved ones as they leave this world.
My mom passed away peacefully the next day. Her four daughters and my dad were in the room, as were a few of my nieces. My youngest brother, David, and the baby of the family, was in the family waiting room when my mom passed away and he wept when we went in to tell him.
Two weeks later I called to see how David was doing and he told me that he missed my mom and was feeling guilty for not visiting her in Florida. He said he had a friend from high school whose grandmother was in the hospital dying and he felt like he needed to go see him. Then he said, “He told me the strangest thing. My friend said his grandmother kept telling everybody to please get the man in the hat to leave her room. She needed that chair for her family to sit in.” The friend’s grandmother died shortly after my brother’s visit.
The Bible teaches us clearly that there are angels. A host of angels. God created so many angels they are too many to count. All the angels have jobs. I believe the Bible teaches that there are death angels. They are waiting for God’s children to die and in that very moment they will carry them to Abraham’s bosom. Luke 16:22 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.”
My mother had a dream. She met Jesus and He was waiting for her. She saw the man in a hat beside her bed several times before she died. I believe Jesus was calling her home and I believe the angel was waiting for the time to carry her up to Heaven.
This beautiful child of God—my mother—had returned to her Father and had left this world thinking that she was only able to give her children the gift of knowing they would not have to pay for her funeral. And, that there would be no family inheritance. But, what she left us with was so much more. She displayed the love of God and gave us a testimony of our eternal inheritance.
Are you a child of God? If you died tonight, would you go to Heaven? Would the man in the hat carry you in his arms so you wouldn’t have to cross the great divide alone?
If you don’t know God as your Father, you can believe in His Son right now and He will accept you as his child today. All you have to do is believe in your heart. You can pray right now these words, “Father, I know I am a sinner and I believe that you sent your Son to die on the cross to save me from my sins so that I can live in Heaven with you in eternity. Please come into my heart and forgive me. Amen”
If you prayed that prayer, welcome to the family. And, after you step into Heaven and worship Jesus, find my mom. Her name is Lydia. Tell her she gave me more than life. She gave me hope. And I’ll look forward to the man in the hat carrying me up to Heaven to eternal life with Jesus one day. Hallelujah!!!
If you prayed the prayer of salvation, please hit the contact us button and let us know, we’d love to send you some information on how you can grow in your new life as a child of God.
For a glimpse of Annette’s family story and how God used a dream to bring her back to Him, go to Amazon and search books, He Gave Me A Song, Annette R Burrell.