THE FINGER OF GOD

"THE FINGER OF GOD"

By: Dan Revoir

CHAPTER 5

 

The Finger of God in Mississippi

Long Distance Call...It was Thanksgiving morning 1993, a time when we celebrate God’s abundance with family traditions. We always have a special coffeecake baked by Martha. I cannot enjoy this excellent nut and cinnamon sugar delight now because of my diabetes, but I enjoy it vicariously just watching the others put butter on this already sinful holiday threat. Of course, Wini, my daughter-in-law has to add to this caloric banquet by bringing “monkey bread;” your basic bread rolls with caramel and pecans topping on them. They are usually called sticky buns, I believe. Now that is to sustain life through the Thanksgiving Day Parade ensuring us that we would have ample strength to reach the dining room table for the turkey dinner.

But this morning on awakening, my spirit sensed something was wrong with my mom. My mom lived in Mississippi, about a thousand miles away. But we had this incredible ability to reach out to each other and to know when something is wrong. I always “sensed” (important word) when she needed me to call her. I had called almost every week since my dad died in 1976. My first thought was to call her immediately and find out what was wrong. The phone rang about 12 - 14 times and there was no answer. I thought she must have just left her apartment for a few minutes, probably to go see Miss Ora, a precious black lady who mom watched over like a mother hen. In fact, she was alive only because of mom’s vigilance. One day Mom went into her apartment because Ora had not called that morning and she found her lying on the floor bleeding terribly. But mom, with her 15 years of working at Methodist Hospital accessed the situation in seconds and called for an ambulance, saving Miss Ora’s life.

My mom was an angel of love and mercy. She loved and helped those whom no one else would even talk to, let alone help them. In fact, my mom was not too popular in the government-subsidized housing because her two best friends were Miss Ora, about 86 years old, and Nell, another black lady who desperately loved my mom. People would ask her, “Why do you worry about those people in your complex?”

My mom had a side that very few people ever saw. When she was angry; watch out. One man, who had invited himself into her apartment on the pretext of having a book he wanted her to read, made the terrible mistake of making that comment. He was very soon to learn the error of his way. The nicest words she said to him were, “You are the sorriest son of a b…. that I have ever met.” Then there were some comments about the uncertainty of his ancestry. It was all downhill from there. Her concluding words were, “You either leave this apartment right now or I will throw you through the door. You are not ever welcome in my apartment and don’t ever speak to me again.”

I guess probably any idiot could understand that. Like what part of “No” don’t you understand? I believe with all my heart that man was very fortunate to choose to leave because that 120-pound woman would have literally put him through the door.


Something wasn’t right...

The nagging feeling would not stop. I called again hoping mom and Miss Ora were having a cup of coffee and she would be back in her apartment. Again - no answer. I decided to call my sister Bonnie, thinking although it was early, but, maybe mom would be at her house for dinner. It was mom’s yearly tradition to have a Thanksgiving meal with everyone. She would have dinner at Bon’s, and later have a snack with my brother and his wife, John and Becky. Then later still she would have a turkey breast and a meal with my other brother Jim. She loved to cook but didn’t like to eat alone. She was not at my sister’s house. Mom was not to be found. We went to have dinner with the rest of our family at my son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Wini’s house. Time after time I would go find a quiet place (which was very difficult with four little grandchildren) where I could use the phone. Then I got a long-distance message in my spirit. I knew mom was in the hospital and that it was serious.

After we came home in the late evening I again called my sister and as she answered, I said, “What hospital is mom in and what is wrong with her?”

Her reply was, “Did John call you?”

“No, he didn’t have to, I knew all day that she was in the hospital but I need to know what is wrong.”

She related that it was a heart problem that needed to be corrected. This had happened several times before and required monitoring or changing meds to correct the problem. The panic apprehension started to subside and I told her to keep me informed. Mom had made them promise that no one would call me; she didn’t want to upset me. I already knew. Let me reiterate we had a very close relationship, heart-to-heart even though we were 1,000 miles apart. When I pleaded with her to come and live in our home, to use the bedroom we had prepared for her, she always said that she couldn’t stand the cold of Michigan winter and that Miss Sharp would rent her apartment if she was gone for more than two weeks. So our time together was always limited to a two-week period.

To give you a better idea about my mom, I need to go back to October of 1992. I had a 1984 Honda Gold Wing and mom’s greatest joy was to ride with me. When she arrived in Michigan the temperature was quite moderate (to us at least) but the colors were gorgeous. We had talked on the phone about flight numbers and arrival time. She mentioned that she had just bought a new pair of jeans for riding on the bike. Remember, she was 73 years old at the time.

After she arrived, we, of course, went to her favorite fast-food restaurant. The laughter and chatter lasted until about 11 p.m. that night. She arrived just before noon but we had so much to catch up that time didn’t matter. In fact, it seemed to stand still.

The next morning she came out with her new jeans on and putting her hands on her hips she turned around (for approval) and said, “Well, where are we going today on the cycle?” I was a little taken aback since I thought she would want to at least rest for one day. So I warned her that there is not a whole lot of wind protection on a bike so she would have to wear insulted underwear and warm boots and would have to wear a good down coat. After getting her sufficiently bundled up, I went out and fired up the bike. She earlier had a broken hip which had never really healed completely, but she mounted that steel horse, as well as I did.

We headed to Fruit Ridge Road, which pretty well describes what it is -- miles and miles of apple trees as far as you can see. The only break in the fruit trees was stands of hardwoods with their blazing colors that defy any amount of descriptive words. The colors were the most brilliant that I have seen in a decade. We stopped every half-mile oohing and ahhing at God’s beautiful paintings. They were breathtaking. We traveled about 70 miles. As we returned home, I figured she would be paralyzed, or at least I would have to pick her up and lift her off the bike. But much to my surprise she bounced off the bike, unbuckled her helmet and asked “Is there any reason we couldn’t go farther? I’d be glad to buy some gas!” Ops! I guess I had completely underestimated this spunky mother of mine.

The next morning she bounced out of the bedroom wearing her jeans with her helmet cradled under her arm and asked, “Where are we going today?” And go we did. I explained that I needed to take my insulin injection and eat breakfast then we would “boogie”. We aimed the bike towards Baldwin, stopping only to take several rolls of film of the beautiful trees and eating lunch. We laughed and drank hot strong coffee to stop the shivers we both had. I am not sure it was the cold as much as the excitement of being together becoming one on a steel horse. We drank in each moment as we drank the final cup of coffee. Enough time inside. We had so much more to see before the sun set. We traveled about 120 miles that day and as I pulled the cycle into the garage she asked, “Where are we going tomorrow?” I laughed and told her to point in any direction and that is the way we would go.

After about four or five days of cycling and drinking gallons of coffee, I thought maybe she should take a break and that we could use the car for a day. I had made plans for a very special day. Well, the idea of letting the bike cool off for a day was not exactly what she wanted to do but she conceded when I told her we would go much farther north to see the colors; this seemed to placate her.

Martha, who was working while we were touring the outer regions of Michigan, agreed to drive the old Escort. Early the next morning we drove north on US 131, stopping at Mickey Dees for some ham and cheese croissants and of course, our usual fix of caffeine. Our destination was Lake City and after our “drive-through” breakfast I previously had called Sheryl (Director of the extended care facility) and told her not to give Alta lunch because I was going to take her out for the day. I need to explain a little at this point.

Mom and Alta had been friends when I was just a little boy (long time ago!). They were like sisters only they didn’t fight. Alta was staying in an adult foster care home and for several years I would go to Lake City (approximately 115 miles one way) about once a month to take her to lunch. Then we would just drive all over so she could enjoy seeing the great north that she loved so much. It was so cute; she was just a little over 4 feet tall and could not see over the dashboard. So I would stack a couple of pillows on the front seat then try to balance her on top of the pillows until I could get her buckled in with the seatbelt.

We always had a grand time and usually would stop at Big Boy’s in Kalkaska for lunch. She would always say the same thing, “Joe, (she always called me that) I just have lost my appetite and nothing tastes good to me.” And every time I would reply, “That’s okay - just eat what sounds good to you.” I would have to order for her to encourage her to eat it. We both would have fish with onion rings. Her hands were badly crippled with arthritis, so I would cut up her food for her. We would talk of the old days and all the mischief that her son Glen and I were involved in and many of the stupid things that young boys can think up. We would laugh and then there would be quiet times and we both would try to swallow the lump in our throats and brush away a tear that had escaped from the corner of our eye. As sure as the sun would set, when we finished, her plate would be empty and then I would coax her to have a piece of strawberry pie. She would argue and tell me she absolutely could not swallow another bite. So I would order the pie to go. And invariably she would start working on it before we were five miles down the road.

We are going to see Alta!” Mom’s face lit up and she reached over grabbing my hand and said, “Oh Daniel, thank you so much, now you are buying the gas so I am buying lunch.” I shook my head in resignation and told her she was something else. What a day we had! The sky was as blue as Lake Michigan. There was not a cloud to be seen, color was at about 110%. I mean absolutely beautiful. They sat in the back seat of the car; Alta perched precariously on her pillows so she could see out of the window. They talked and talked about the old days and once again I felt like a little boy listening intently as the grown-ups talk. We stopped at Big Boy’s and Alta promised us that she couldn’t eat a thing; again she devoured a huge order of fish and onion rings. I being very persuasive talked both of them into having the strawberry pie. The rest of the day was filled with picture taking, driving in the country and sorting through an old cedar chest of memories of the past form the attics of our minds.

Alta died in June of 1993 our color tour would be their last time together on this earth. The news of Alta’s death really devastated my mom and about two months later mom’s last sister died and I had her funeral. All this and the pneumonia mom had developed took a terrible toll on her well being. In fact, barrage after barrage of antibodies failed to restore her health. I once again “sensed” that she desperately needed me so in late October I told Martha I needed to go be with mom. She did not question and encouraged me to follow my heart. I wish I had recorded mom’s response when I called her telling her of my flight plan and arrival. It was something like this, “Oh, Daniel, you have no idea of how happy this makes me. I can’t wait to see you. Tell Martha I love her and thank her for letting you come.” There were several I love yous between us before I hung up the phone.

As I was flying on the plane my mind was recounting all the previous flights I had made, most of them very emotional with my dad being sick and dying and my mother’s very critical, facing the possibility of death. But I knew somehow that when I got there she would be all right. She was constantly in my prayers and I would pray God’s protection around her. My faith was unshakeable; I knew God heard my prayers and answered in awesome ways. I couldn’t have been closer to God.

The flight plan called for hop scotching all over the country; leave Grand Rapids, go to Detroit, lay over there one and one half to two hours. Then fly to Nashville; lay over; from Nashville to Memphis. There was a plane change at Memphis into one of those little shuttle planes called Air Link. That, of course, would be the longest, bumpiest, noisiest leg of the journey with at least two stops along the way.

When I finally arrived at Pinebelt Airport in Laurel, Mississippi I walked into the tiny terminal, there was my brothers Jim and John standing on each side of our mom as if holding her up, which was in fact what they were doing. If they had not been there, I never would have recognized her. I recoiled at the sight of her; this can’t possibly by my mother. She was down to about 96 pounds, very emaciated for her five foot eight inch frame. The skin of her face was drawn back and was a sickening white pallor; she looked more dead than alive. Her brown eyes, which usually flashed and sparkled with fire, were glazed and unmoving. I hugged her very gently and walked her over to a seat. She, of course, had to be standing to greet me. I hugged my brothers and suggested that we better get mom home.

I was mentally appraising the body language and lack of response; sort of like taking stock of a person that has come to me for counseling or whatever you want to call it. I realized her emotional state almost immediately; she was in severe clinical depression that should have been observed by others but was not. Other cases such as hers that I have observed really need to be hospitalized and given very careful attention and medication. The death of Alta, her best friend and Aunt Elaine and the tenacious pneumonia had taken all the fight out of her.

She could only manage a weak smile and a feeble hug as we walked the short distance to the car. I was heartsick, as I looked at my frail mom terribly sick physically and emotionally. The first hint of humor came as she realized the incredulous look on my face, as she related to me. “If you think I look bad now, you should have seen me six weeks ago.” I still couldn’t believe my eyes. She should have been hospitalized for the pneumonia.

We made our usual stop at Arby’s for a roast beef sandwich (that was her most favorite place to eat). We should have bought some stock for that food chain. She picked at her sandwich and said she really wasn’t hungry.

Well, being a preacher I brought out sermon number 39 and started telling all the reasons she had to eat but like everyone else she completely ignored my pleadings and profound wisdom.

The only analogy I can use is that of a person receiving a blood transfusion. In just a couple days of laughing and hugging each other and of course challenging each other to a crossword puzzle contest (in which she was an expert) the color returned to her face. Her drawn skin once again became soft and radiant and her appetite started picking up. The depression was turned around and she started fighting again.

The nights were the hardest; we would work 1,000-piece puzzles until late at night. We sounded like the Walton family as we said goodnight, “I hope you sleep good” I would say from the couch in the front room. "I love yous" back and forth. “What are we going to do tomorrow?” “Do you think we can finish that puzzle?” “Where do you want to have breakfast?” It was as though we needed to be together every moment of every day.

She responded to words of encouragement and we made future plans for her to come to Michigan in the summer of 1994. So she could see our little missionary daughter Patti, who would be home from Kenya, Africa for several months. Then the whole family would go to Paradise in the upper peninsula of Michigan, as we had done before. My five year old grandson Nathan (Nate Nate to Grandpa) had asked several times when is “Nana” coming up so we can go play on the beach again? So we talked of barbecuing steaks on the grill and making sand castles on the beach and just having time stand still for our beautiful vacation.

Again after talking to my sister late that Thanksgiving evening when I sensed mom was in the hospital I decided not to call the hospital but rather wait until morning. (Getting the call through to mom was like calling our daughter in Kenya, Africa. It was transferred from station to station, which seems to take forever.) Her voice was very weak and she tried to relate all the events of Thanksgiving Day. It seems that she and Nell went to a super market deli to pick up a catered Thanksgiving meal. Mom had wanted to have a special Thanksgiving for her friends in her building. As they were shopping she felt dizzy and went to sit down. The doctors later told her that her heart was stopping for short intervals of time. She had a history of PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions), or when the heart has extra beats. This is fairly common in heart patients, and you just have to get used to it.

Mom assured me that the doctors were being very diligent and would soon correct the problem. So don’t worry - too late!

The next day when I called she said she was running a fever. They were starting IV’s. Her voice was tired and it told me things that she did not say.

The fever was persistent and antibiotics were being increased. They were fighting to keep the fever down. But again she told me not to worry; they were doing everything medically possible. I tried to control the panic in my voice as she once again told me, “This is costing you a fortune; we better hang up.” There was I love you’s back and forth and my counsel of telling her to stop allowing visitors. They were dragging her down, making her use energy to talk that she needed to fight. Those were my last words every time we talked (which was every day). “Mom, keep fighting, please don’t give up! Do it for me. I love you, I love you.”

Each day was worse. The fever wouldn’t stop. She had a bladder infection. They x-rayed her and she still had pneumonia. They are trying new antibiotics. The IV’s have to be moved after a few hours because they infiltrate (the veins were collapsing).

On and on it went each day. The doctors put in a subclavian - a catheter that is inserted into a main artery to facilitate giving the IV’s. Then things seemed to be getting better, the fever broke and the heart seemed to stabilize, her voice seemed stronger and her words were encouraging.

I started to breathe a sigh of relief because I had a speaking engagement December 3 – 5th. I had made an agreement with God that I would speak anytime there was an opportunity, after my ten months in the hospital with pancreatitis. Plans had been made three or four months before. So I felt an obligation before God to honor that commitment. Martha and I had discussed the possibility of me going to Mississippi again to be with mom but to me keeping my word or commitment was imperative.

The Bible tells us in James 5:12 “But above all things, (notice all things)my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven neither by earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be yea and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation.” In other words, if you say you are going to do something, then do it - above all things.

So I was preparing to speak because that is my responsibility if God gives me the opportunity.

The meetings went very good, we could all sense the presence of the Holy Spirit. Sunday afternoon, when we came home from the morning service I called mom again.

Bad news, more panic, that helpless feeling, knowing there is nothing you can do. The doctors had put in a temporary pacemaker; the heart was acting up again and her blood pressure was way too low. Even a layperson can understand that process. If the heart does not sustain blood pressure, the kidneys fail; uremic poisoning sets in and everything shuts down with the obvious conclusion.

“Mom, I can’t come down until the first of the week but I will try to get out of Grand Rapids, I will probably have to drive." The trip from Grand Rapids takes at least 20 hours of constant driving and I really did not want to make that arduous journey alone. So Monday I called a travel agency to inquire about a flight to Mississippi. Now, between my trip down in October and spending our savings to publish my first book we were pretty well broke.

Betty, my friend at the travel agency told me I need to get a ticket fourteen days sooner and also the possibility of getting a flight that day or the next would be near impossible since it was time for Christmas travel.

So Martha and I decided it would be best to change the oil in the Pontiac and start driving very early in the morning on Tuesday. But on Monday, December 6 after supper my brother John called, it seems as though he was always the one to break bad news to me. “Dan, they put Mama in the unit (ICU) and she is not doing well.” It was like a kick in the stomach; I should have been there. She would be okay if I was there. Why didn’t you start driving this morning? The question burned into my mind. A thousand questions but no answers! Panic! Helplessness! Guilt for not starting to drive! Anger, at the doctors for not doing more sooner! More questions! How bad?? How can I get there?

I realized that I was speaking very loudly in my anger and frustration. John assured me that all things were being done to help mom and that her doctors were with her constantly. Then he told me he would go to the hospital later and then call me after accessing her condition.

I promised him that I would be there Tuesday if I had to walk. The evening was filled with turmoil and questions and making plans. I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. No call and controlled panic. In desperation I called information to get the hospital ICU number. Then I called the hospital.

Sorry I cannot connect you. Try this number. Another call, no answer, another number. I finally reached a station nurse who said I needed to call the ICU waiting room. I asked, “Could you connect me?”

“I am sorry I cannot leave my station.”

“Give me a break! I have got to talk to my family. Can’t someone help me?”

Another number and finally I got my sister. She conveys the same message as John only ended her ominous message with, “They said she is very critical!”

“Bon, tell her I am coming and that I love her.” I hung up the phone and started pacing the floor trying to read between the lines of Bonnie’s conversation. The feeling was similar to having your car skid out of control on ice. You panic; you are out of control. You are going to crash but there is absolutely nothing you can do. You are utterly helpless. There was no sleep that night!

Early Tuesday morning I called a good friend of mine named Rick. He is an excellent pilot who flew his dad and other executives of Nationwide Truck Brokers (NTB) to destinations all over the USA. “Rick, my mom is in ICU and she is not doing well, could you fly me to Mississippi?” I was hoping beyond hope.

“My plane is down; the landing gear motor has been removed to be repaired.” My heart sunk! I thought that would be the answer to have Rick fly me down and I could take a train back. But that was not to be.

“Let me make a phone call; I will call you back in a few minutes.” In about 20 minutes he did call back with the message. “I have a ticket and a check for you. The flight is at 3 p.m. this afternoon, come and get it as soon as you can!”

I thanked him profusely and called Martha sharing the news with her. Then I called the hospital and got John. He said mom was stable and things were beginning to look up. The blood pressure was much better. The temporary pacemaker was doing its job. Then I talked to Bonnie and told her I was coming and to tell mom that I had gotten a flight and would be there this evening and to tell her how much I love her. I reiterated over and over, “Make sure you tell her I love her.”

I hung up the phone and started crying uncontrollably. It was though my heart was breaking or maybe all the pent up emotion was released like a bursting dam; the tears broke forth unabated. Then as I regained my composure, I had an idea, that I was positive was from God. I would call Dr. Polen, a homeopathic doctor in Dayton, Ohio. I thought of the time that I had taken mom to him.

I dialed Medway knowing that there would be no possibility of talking to Dr. Polen. He would probably be in Europe speaking at seminars or giving doctoral dissertations. The nurse asked if I would hold and in about 30 seconds Dr. Polen came on line. I explained Mom’s condition about having pneumonia and severe arrhythmia with the heart stopping. He immediately diagnosed her problem in the usual unintelligible medical language. Then he got to the cause and effect, telling me the pneumonia was creating the heart problems. And that the procedure being used on mom was actually hindering rather than helping. Then he said, ‘Tell me where to send the medicine she needs and I will send it within a half-hour Federal Express with the directions and dosages she requires. But he cautioned, be sure to count the drops as you put them under her tongue because it is a very powerful medicine. He also stated she would start improving almost immediately.

My spirit soared! We have the answer to mom’s condition. This must be God’s will and the life saving supplements will arrive possibly before I do. I called the hospital in Mississippi and talked to my brother John telling him I had sent the prescriptions from Dr. Polen to his house. I told him this is a matter of life and death so have someone who could intercept the package and get it to the hospital as soon as possible. If it arrived before I did, to start administering the drugs as soon as they arrived. But do not, I emphasize do not let the doctors and nurses do it, since they very well would prohibit anyone from giving medicine that was not approved by their doctors. Again, he assured me that mom was stable and that the doctors were with her constantly. I told him once again to tell mom I was coming and had medicine from Dr. Polen to help her but also to tell her that I loved her more than life.

Martha and I met for lunch and then she would drop me off at the airport so I could start this heart-wrenching journey to see my mom and hopefully the medicine would snatch her from this perilous place. As I reviewed all the impossibilities that had been overcome I sensed the hand of God directing me. To have a ticket when none could be bought, even a check to pay for it and pay back later and the call to Dr. Polen, the medicine already on its way seemed impossible. My flight was one of praying to God, thanking Him for direction and praising Him for doing the impossible. My prayers continued for His protection for mom to strengthen and sustain her. I even prayed His protection around her to keep her from harm’s way. And I was filled with an absolute peace, sensing God’s leading and direction.

My thoughts were to other Christmases that were spent this same way with mom or dad being desperately ill. They were frantic flights, that same homesick feeling of wanting to be together as a family, celebrating the birth of Christ, knowing that the festivities would be a meal at Mickey Dees. And spending day after day in the hospital setting around their hospital bed trying to be happy and encouraging them even though in your heart of hearts you sense this could be your last Christmas together!

Strange thoughts filled my head as I pondered all the events that had transpired in the last few days. A tremendous peace came over me and even with prayers in my heart and on my lips, I was looking out of the window of the plane. The lights of the cities twinkled 35,000 feet below giving an air of Christmas. And I wondered since it was December 7 maybe I would spend Christmas in Mississippi caring for my mom. I hated the thoughts of not being with my family and grand children but I knew they would understand.

The last leg of my journey would put me in Pine Belt Airport at about my ETA and I knew some of my family would meet me and the rest would be with mom.

After I disembarked from the plane I started walking across the tarmac to go into the airport. As I walked into the terminal I saw my two brothers standing by the front entrance. I wanted to greet them and get an update before getting my luggage.

There were no hugs from Jim and John only expressionless stares like you would see on someone who uses drugs. Finally John spoke, the only words he uttered were; “It’s bad; she died.” I reeled and blackness came! I was stunned much the way a steer is when they hit him with a sledgehammer before cutting his throat. They both grabbed me and sat me on a bench. The realization had sunk in and I started getting sweaty and I felt as though I would vomit.

All the prayers!

The very peace of God as I travel!

The medication from Dr. Polen.

The airline ticket.

The check to pay for it.

All of it for nothing! My precious mom had died as I was flying to be with her!

There were no tears. None of us cried, just stunned disbelief. Shock trauma, emotionally an incredibly bad nightmare that we all hoped would end.

The next words out of John’s mouth were “I guess we better go to the funeral home.” The drive from the airport into Hattiesburg was for the most part silent as we each tried to plumb the depths of our emotions, only to find despair!

The director of the funeral home was cordial and he seated the whole family in a pleasant office and started talking “Ya Da, Ya Da, Ya Da on and on adnauseam. Finally I interrupted, “I have flown all the way from Michigan to see my mom and I want to see her now!”

Startled by my response he tried to regain his composure and went into his “I am sorry but the job is not ready.” He explained, “She had just been washed and is not ready for viewing yet.”

With that disclaimer he led us all to a stark little room that very obviously was a preparation room.

There in the center of the room was a table and on the table was my (our) precious mom, covered up to her neck with a sheet. On her face was a tight-lipped grimace that showed her desperate struggle with death, trying to wait to say good bye to her first-born son flying to be at her side.

And I was, but I had been two hours late!

It came from the very depths of my being like projectile vomiting that could not be controlled. I was screaming as loudly as I could. “God, I am so angry with you!!” What would a couple more hours have meant to you?! God, why wouldn’t you let me tell my mother good bye?”

I was alone, my family had left. Just me and my beloved mother and the God I was so angry with. The floodgate broke and a deluge of tears was dumped out. Then the director appeared and quietly said, “We have much to do yet and maybe you might want to be with your family.”

No one wanted to be with me so they pawned me off on my nephew, Wayne Dawson Jr. (since they had a new house). After I deposited my luggage in my room, I went out and started walking and crying. I watered down a great number of streets as I walked all night.

As morning was breaking in the eastern sky I lifted my eyes toward heaven and with great determination I said, “God, if I don’t get a chance to talk to my mom, I don’t think I can serve you any longer.”

Later that afternoon we all were to go to the funeral home to pick out the casket etc. It is a strange thing but my brothers and I became punch drunk emotionally and being a therapist I can’t explain it.

For instance, the salesperson that was trying to assist us pointed to a casket and proudly exclaimed, “This model will last 30 years!” It was as though he was selling used cars, trying to convince you that it was well worth your money. One of us brothers retorted, “Do you usually dig these up every 30 years to check their condition?” Of course, he was speechless but in a few moments after a pregnant silence, he started to stammer. By this time Bonnie was looking at us like a mother correcting her boys in a fancy restaurant. I am sure you know the look! When I get you to the car, I will beat your booty, look!

Boys will be boys and that was all we needed much to her chagrin.

“This model over here has bed cushion built into it so your loved one will rest in comfort.” Another retort, “Well, if you are dead, do you really think it matters what you are lying on?”

“Well some people want the very best for their loved one.”

I believe there are some people who prey (as in birds) on others emotions especially when they are hurt emotionally and very vulnerable!

They informed us that visitation would be that evening at 7 p.m.

I had already contacted my family in Michigan and they were on their way down, driving in their cars. It is hard to explain shock! When you are hurt, as in a car accident the mind blocks it and it is difficult, if not impossible, to remember the events that occurred during the collision. Emotional shock is much the same, there is a sense of being in limbo, disorientated and numb so that you do not feel the pain but you know it will come crashing back! Convulsive, overwhelming, suffocating, by-pass surgery without the benefits of anesthesia. That was the way the day passed!

Then it was time for visitation and as they ushered us into a huge living room there surrounded by pink roses in a pink and white casket was my beautiful mom. The crushing convulsive pain came back and choked me in sobs that would not be quieted.

Later guests started coming in quiet and solemn at first and then friends started visiting with each other. Then came a little laughter, then louder talking and more laughter louder. The dirge was turning to delight and my beautiful mom was no longer the center of attraction. But the Michigan son was transfixed by her side trying to be as close as possible because I knew in just a short time she would be gone!

As I stood there gazing at her quiet peaceful face, I thought of the grimace and fighting with death when we first had seen her but that was all gone. The director was a master of his vocation.

Another “strange” thing happened as the guests left; all except a few personal friends of Bonnie, Jim and John. I was sort of pulling myself together; still looking at mom’s face when I could feel her spirit was still present. (Remember that I knew when she was sick.)

I know the Word of God says in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Nonetheless, I could still sense her spirit.

Visiting hours were over and guests had left and Bonnie, Jim and John decided to go to Wayne Jr.’s for some supper. As they approached me to go with them, I declined, saying, “No, I want to be with mom for a while longer.” At about 10:15 p.m. the director came to me and said, “We really need to go home now.” I apologized and left promptly.

The next day, December 9, my family arrived from Michigan and it was good to have Martha’s comfort plus my children and grand children (you grandparents know what I am saying).

We pretty much went through the same thing at visitation that next evening -- more laughter, louder talking, and more being by mom with Martha beside me. More sensing mom’s spirit, more aching heart. When will the pain stop? Never!

Again after guests left and plans for supper (everything had been supplied true southern hospitality), grand children needed to be put to bed. All were leaving and I explained to Martha my need to be with mom for a while longer. She understood and hugged me, saying; “I will see you in a little while.”

Again I overstayed my welcome standing beside the pink and white coffin.

The director was very tactful and suggested to me that I come early the next morning before the funeral; and to pull up a chair and sit and talk to my mom.

The next morning I awoke early and I got up quietly and started getting ready. Martha awoke and asked, “Where are you going?”

“To the funeral home.”

“Why don’t you wait for the others?”

“I need to be with mom just a little bit longer.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No sweetheart, I must do this.”

“I’ll have Bon pick me up, don’t worry.”

We traded “I love yous” and I left.

The director greeted me with “Good morning, would you like a cup of coffee?” I accepted his gracious offer and he said, “You just pull up a chair and talk with your mom some more.”

We sat there - mother and son - and all I could say was, “I love you so much and I miss you terribly. This tear in my heart will never heal.”

There was an overwhelming sense of mom’s spirit and I quickly got up and went to the funeral director.

“Do you have a pen and something I can write on?” He gave me a pen and a brochure that had a blank page.

I went back to my chair and sat down, taking the pen in my left hand. And again I started to weep so I couldn’t see what I was writing but this is the message I received:

“Daniel, don’t be sad! I love you very much. Tell everyone I love them, Mama.” 

My long distance call was answered and God in His loving kindness allowed His servant one more chance to talk with his beloved mother. We saw the Finger of God in Mississippi.

I know that you may have doubts about this account. I told you at the onset that I would share things you would not believe, things against your theology, things beyond human comprehension. But this is all true!

To continue reading, please click here:  My Turn On The Anvil


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