Friday, April 28, 2006

"Those Precious Moments: Share God's beautiful gift of personal transformation and call to purpose"


--by Debra J. Gordon, 2001
Tallahassee, Florida USA

This is a true story.  I was the last family member to speak with my Grandma before she passed in 1992.  She asked me if it was okay for 'her to go home.'  Our final moments together were brief, but those precious moments would mark the beginning of my ten-year journey of discovery, to understanding His Purpose for me.

Grandma had a speed-dial relationship with God and his Archangels-- especially Michael, the Angel of Justice.  She always told me, "I was a special child of God and would speak up the people who couldn't speak up for themselves."  One night when she told me that, tears welled up in her eyes as she made the sign of the cross on my forehead.  I was only about nine years old then.  I can still remember hearing the Johnny Carson Show blaring on her black 'n white Zenith console in the background.  Grandma must have known all along what I was destined to do in life.

Esther was a small-framed woman, barely standing 5'4" tall.  This nobel woman's grace, keen insight and unending wisdom, shown through narrow eyes, high cheekbones and a Grand Canyon-like smile.  Esther taught children music and piano lessons for some 40+ years in the small Southern Georgia town of Valdosta.  In one of these years, Grandma won the honor of Georgia's Teacher of the Year.  She and her siblings-- Allan, Naomi, James Emory, Ruth and Joseph, learned extraordinary lessons of courage and faith, early on in life.  To my sisters and me she was known as Mame.  By her closest friends, she was called Queen Esther-- a peaceful radical.  A woman born generations ahead of her time, such that, 'the Queen' might upstage any King Xerxes?  So, back on that memorable night in April, I was humbled beyond words, when my Grandma asked ME for permission to make Heaven her next home.///

Hospital visiting hours were long over.  The time had come for our nightly return trip home to Tallahassee.  My younger sister DeNise, Mother and Dad had already left the hospital room to take most of Mame's floral arrangements out to the car.  But, for some strange reason, I remained in Grandma's room, rather than leaving with my family.

At the time, Grandma was being fed ample doses of morphine thru an I.V. in her left hand.  When alert, she'd frequently challenge the transparent feeding tubes and yank disgustingly on them.  Grandma's coloring remained strong but her body weight looked less than 100 pounds.  Stomach cancer was taking her quickly.  The night before, my sister's non-verbal words, confirmed that she also knew, the time was near.  However, tonight, alone together-- my dear Grandma and I were about to embrace gifted moments of personal transformation granted by God.

Sitting in a chair near the foot of Mame's bed, I was navigating the remaining floral arrangements yet to be carried out to our car.  I remember thinking... how in the world will I carry all of these flowers by myself?  So I decided Mame would simply have to look at these beautiful flowers again tomorrow.  As I began to reach for my sweater, I heard a vigorous rustling sound nearby.  I look around and was shocked to see Grandma sitting straight up on her bed-- like she'd been called to military attention!  Grandma was vibrant and summoned me to come closer, by confidently patting the vintage mattress with her right hand.  In a gentle, yet authoritative voice, that was not her own, Grandma mocked through lips that did not move, "Come here baby."  I was somewhat afraid but excited at the same time, to see she was (finally) responding to her most recent surgery.  Little did I realize, God had just entered the room and He was speaking through Grandma.

Timidly, I approached the foot of her bed.  With my own Grand Canyon-like smile, I asked, "You're feeling better already?"  Grandma interrupted, "Take my hand baby."  Her warm, soft skin was overshadowed by a firm grasp that pulled me to her side.  I remember telling her, "Save your strength Mame," as I coaxed her to lie back.  She did as I asked and again, patted the mattress with her tiny hand.  Although her soft nature had returned, her eyes were both humble and desperately feisty.  "I can't make it anymore - I'm tired," whispered Grandma.  In an instant, I realized what was happening.  Oh no, not now God... not now!  My heart skipped three thousand beats!  I grabbed Mame's entire arm and pulled her to me, as if to keep her here on Earth.  Panicked by the inevitable, I fought back the tears and this big ole' lump in my throat made it difficult for me to say, "No Mame, we're going home to get some sleep and we'll be right back again tomorrow."  A flood of emotions began to wash over me. Thousands of Grandma images and of unsaid conversations danced in my head.  Through heavy gasps for air, I choked on the words, "God, please don't take her yet.  Let me have her just one more day!  Grandma I love you, I love you."  My voice trailed to a faint whisper, "I love you"---

And I buried my face in her chest.   I knew this would be the night!///
"...and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ."  --Ephesians 4:5-6
In the deep quiet of the moment, I heard Grandma say, "There's no need for you to come back tomorrow.  I can't make it.  Can I go home?"  Grandma's eyes rolled to the back of her head as she called out to her sisters already in Heaven.  "Ruth, Nae Nae is that you?"  I realized she was beginning to make her transition and was seeking permission from me to 'Let Go.'  In awe of such a revelation, I was even more amazed that God was allowing me to traverse in the spirit world.

An imposing yet warm and calm presence made Grandma's hospital room feel as though it was wrapped in a silky cacoon, engulfed by a tropical island breeze.  Surely I would have floated away had I not been clutching her arm so tightly.  Overwhelmed by and unable to totally understand His wondrous power, my body began to tremble with uncertainty.  Grandma looked me straight in my tear-soaked eyes, squeezed my hand and reassuringly said, "Baby don't cry.  I promise everything will be alright in the morning."  Who would have ever thought what happened next?

Abruptly and quite sternly, Grandma's rarely seen radical personality ordered. "You've got work to do and must be strong."  The blazed look in her recessed eyes was sharper than sharp.  I had absolutely no idea what she meant by work but I felt my mouth mumble... "Yes Mame, I'll be strong."  Instantly relieved, Grandma slumped back on her bed with a thud sound, gasped for air and smiled her famous 'Grand Canyon' smile.  Still clutching her hands, I noticed her lucid eyes seemed to be fixed on something up above, just beyond my right shoulder.  I thought she'd gone on home.  In the voice which was not her own, Mame's lips mimicked, "You're gonna' need to take good care of your mother baby."  Her words echoed off the walls of our windy cocoon.  Grandma was still looking up at-- something.  A mysterious, firm thrust which pushed against my right cheek, kept me from turning to see Grandma's... something.  Sensing my anxiety, her reassuring grip tightened, all the while giving an approving nod to her private vision.

With a supreme understanding, Mame turned her gaze in my direction and whispered, "Promise me you'll take good care of your mother.  She's going to need you to watch over her."  My promise to Mame was made through another huge lump in my throat.  Crocodile tears cascading down my face blended with a lightheaded feeling.  My Grandmother's last words to me were, "Precious, I need to go home.  Nae Nae, I'm coming."  I don't know if she heard me say, "It's okay Mame, it's okay.  Your new home is beautiful."

The cocoon's imposing presence was no longer threatening, for I understood.  Clinging to Grandma's pink lace nightgown, I buried my face in her side and tried to breathe her as deeply as I could.  Her grip was no more.  Her breathing, shallow and steady.  Grandma was at peace.  Acknowledging the inevitable, I kissed Mame's forehead and felt God blow his breath on me from her lips.  I smelled her Brach's peppermint candy breath, fresh ocean air and the faint scent of her Charles of the Ritz perfume she always wore.  I hugged my Queen Esther's warm and fragile body as if there was no tomorrow.  Her soul was ready to move onward.  She'd done His work quite royally.  Now, it was time for me to do mine.///

                                    
Again, I found myself sitting immobilized in the chair across from the foot of Mame's bed.  I honestly don't remember how I got there.  Counting to the rhythm of her chest rising up and down, I thanked God for letting my Grandma continue to breathe.  Light from the parking lot illuminated her silvery hair and gentle face.  The night sky was darker than black, almost blue-black.  I wondered, where were the stars?  There were none in His sky.  The shrill of a distant train whistle jolted me and suddenly I had the presence of mind to remember my family waiting out in the car.  But selfishly, I continued to watch my Grandma breathe and hoped they'd understand my delay.  The once bothersome I.V. tubes in her left hand didn't seem to matter any longer.  The Queen's hands lay matter-of-factly across her chest. 


Above Mame's headboard appeared a soft white glow, which took on the shape of an angel's wingspan.  Without a doubt, Mame's angels were watching over her.  Amplified sounds and crystal-clear images of Grandma's homecoming mirrored before me.  Flocks of Jekyll Island sea gulls, prancing through stilted foliage, were drowned out by the sound of a big band orchestra.  Oversized, 'Lawrence Welk' bubbles painted in vivid purple, blue and green, invaded our cocoon.  The smell of Mame's old fashion, one-stick-of-butter pound cake, quickened a vivid picture of Grandma in her mint green kitchen.  Smiling at sleeping beauty, I made the sign of the cross on my forehead just like she did to me when I was a little girl.  As my heart decided to let Mame go the God--  poof...! the silky cocoon evaporated.  I took a deep breath and blew her one l-o-n-g last kiss in the air.  Grandma was ready to go home and I was finally at peace.  


At approximately 10:30pm, I closed the door of my Grandmother's Earthly life.  Her sisters Ruth and Naomi (caterers extraordinaire) were probably already up in Heaven, preparing a huge gala event to receive Mame at her homecoming.  And, there was no doubt in my mind that her big brother, Allan (a New York syndicated columnist) was arranging front page press coverage in "The Heavenly Times."  Pausing to get one last look at my noble Grandma, I left the hospital room door slightly ajar.  The hallway was dimly lit but even this small amount of light was too bright for me.  I had to shield my eyes and adjust to being back in the real world.  I turned and walked away with an impressive, resurrected level of boldness and newfound awareness!///

The hour-and-a-half-long drive back home to Tallahassee seemed to take no time at all.  The late night sky was amazingly beautiful.  Now, there appeared a galaxy of twinkling stars "...up above the world so high...  like a diamond in the sky."  Grandma's piano played her favorite lullaby in my head.  The crickets in the night and Mr. Hoot Owl joined her trio.  I wondered to myself, where in the world was this unexplained, all-of-a-sudden heightened sense of sight and sound coming from?  Had God's purification done something special to me?

I don't remember arriving back home in Tallahassee or of even getting dressed for bed that night.  Sitting alone in the dark, I fell in love with real peace and quiet.  Much needed sleep finally took over but with a start, I awakened.  I was sitting up in bed with my hands folded aimlessly across my lap the same way I remember last seeing Grandma's hands.  Again, from somewhere in the not-so-distant area, the same familiar train whistle collided with the big band orchestra.  Across the room over the bedroom dresser mirror, the same glow of light formed a delicate angel's wingspan, just long enough for me to say goodbye to Grandma one last time.  I felt something pulling at my heart as the wings floated out through the bedroom window.  Behind Mame's angels, a single star trailed like a whimsical kite, to which my sleepy cheeks turned into a knowing grin.  Grandma was making her way home.  Bright red numbers on the bedroom clock burst through to the ceiling and brought me out of my farewell daze.

Sure enough, Grandma's unending wisdom, once again revealed itself.  There had been 'no need for our family to come back tomorrow.'  Grandma's words, uttered only hours ago, lilted in my head as I stood in the doorway of hospital room 407.  I could only chuckle and shake my head at the vision I had of Queen Esther, wearing her favorite white cowboy pantsuit, hangin' up in Heaven with God and ALL of His archangels.

Through His Almighty power, He had transferred from Grandma's soul and embodied into my soul, an unshakable level of strength, grace, insight, wisdom and spirituality.  Today, I walk in boldness, step-by-step with resilience from thine enemies and assured in the complete confidence that, He divinely protects me.  So, get ready world!  Here comes Esther's first-born grandchild, power walking His path to fight injustice and to speak up for the people who can't speak up for themselves.

Psst...!  Are you blessed to know what God wants for your life?


///End  "Those Precious Moments:  Share God's beautiful gift of personal transformation and call to purpose"
(c) October 2001, Debra J. Gordon



"...If the world had more people like you, our planet would be a much healthier and happier place." 
--Barbara DeAngelis, New York Times Best Selling Author  "How Did I Get Here"
(08/23/1995)

"...I was truely blessedf by Those Precious Moments.  I'm sure [it] will help deliver a lot of people from the fear of death.  I commend you for being bold enough to share such a personal experience with the world." 
--Sr. Pastor Dale C. Bronner, Word of Faith Family Worship Center / Atlanta, Ga  
(12/21/2001)

"...Thank you for blessing me with your story.  Your Grandmother sounds like she was one wonderful lady. 
May you experience much more wise guidance from your intuition and keep writing!"
  --Lynn robinson, Author "Divine Intuition" 
(01/28/2002)

"...We know that you have been blessed by giving expression to your thoughts through your writing." 
--Colleen Zuck, Editor, The Daily Word  
(02/04/2002)


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Photo credits: Bobbi Jones (Love 'n Glitter) and Francisco Farias, Jr. (Angel) | PublicDomainPictures
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