Mom, Heaven, and me

Renee Ann Smith —  February 9, 2014 — 17 Comments
A year ago this past weekend, my mom went to be with the Lord. So I dug up this old post in memory of her . . .

It’s October 2012. I sit by my mother’s side, my chair squeezed between her bed and the bathroom of a cramped hospital room. While I wait for a nurse to administer meds, my gaze drifts to the picture window and its panoramic view of our small city and the blue Catskills beyond. A white church steeple rises tall and straight above the trees, now brilliant with fall color. Quite a contrast to this drab, antiseptic place.

Complications of COPD, a small blood clot, and other ailments have brought my 83-year-old mother to the hospital. (This will be repeated three or four times in the next few months.) She doesn’t do well here. She is disoriented and unsure. Her eyes search for the familiar photos that cover her walls at the nursing home. She jumps at every noise.

After the nurse leaves, I take out my book. I’ve been reading to my mom, and this month we’re working our way through Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I love that the book shares so many answers to prayer and Scriptures and biblical principles.

In spite of her increasing dementia and the distraction of these strange surroundings, Mom is really tuned in. I can tell because when I come to a Scripture or Bible story, I stop in the middle of the section. I wait. Soon, in a feeble voice, my mom finishes the verse. She knows the words by heart.

Heaven Is for Real mom to resize

At one point, the story shares a painful part of the parents’ lives—one involving a heartbreaking loss. My voice trembles as I read this section. Tears slide down my mother’s cheeks.

But we are soon reminded that God redeems every pain and sorrow. Even though He takes away, what He gives in return rises exceeding abundantly beyond what we can ask or even think.

This comforts my mother because she is poised on the threshold between earth and Heaven. This comforts me because ours has been a difficult mother/daughter relationship.

More often than not we butted heads. We didn’t just rub each other the wrong way. At times we scraped raw and bruised each other. I expected more than she could give. I blamed her that she could not be what I needed her to be.

But this little book brings home to us that Heaven holds the cure for all life’s ugliness. And how seeing Jesus is the answer to all our dreams. (Click to Tweet)

As the months pass, I grow increasingly grateful for that shared experience. Mom’s mind retreats more and more into her dementia. She no longer responds when I read. She deteriorates more quickly—with one short rally for a Christmas visit from my out-of-town sisters.

Halfway through January 2013, the nursing home suggest we contact hospice. Just hearing the word freezes the breath in my lungs. Who knew hospice would take the form of a burly young man, who would pray over my mom during every visit.

By February, my sister and I spend every moment we can with Mom. We feed her and attempt to comfort her and give her our last messages. When she stops responding, we simply watch over her.

Death torments her brittle, little body like a beast ravaging some poor creature in its mighty jaws. He’s a relentless enemy. He does his best to make us think he will win this battle.

But he’s too late. Even though we’ve never been there, we know that Heaven is for real.
We know that God has conquered death, trampled it under His heel. Now death is simply the last foe a Christian fights before the blessed home-going and the joy that lasts forever in the land where he is not allowed. (Click to Tweet)
On February 7, 2013, Mom breaks free of him, and God takes her home.

Yes, I believe Heaven is for real. I believe my mom awaits me there. I know she forgives me—that I could not always be what she wanted me to be.

And I bet Mom thinks it’s cool that now she knows the answers to all her questions.

Plus more.

Thanks for stopping in today. Blessings, friends!

Bonus pic. (Yes, that’s me at age 7 or so in the striped shirt and slicked back hair!)

mom collage to resize

Here’s the list of the top 5 Books that Made Me Love Heaven!
***I love that the last thing Mom & I bonded over was a book—especially one about Heaven. This little book has been such an ambassador for Christ! I pray for seeds to be sown whenever I see it in a store display. If you’re skeptical about the book, here are some facts that should put your mind at rest. 
  • The total focus of the little boy’s experience or vision is on the risen Christ.
  • The book emphasizes that there’s one way to Heaven: through the saving work of Christ.
  • The little boy’s experience leaves him with an evangelistic fervor.
  • The Gospel is clearly explained through the story.
  • The book is filled with pertinent Scriptures.
  • All the Burpo’s experiences highlight the power of prayer, forgiveness, and love

This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, Modest Mondays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, A Little R&R, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

17 responses to Mom, Heaven, and me

  1. Beautiful post. I’m typing this with tears in my eyes, Renee. Thank you for sharing the memories that you spent with your mother over a book. It is a wonder how just a few words can really touch lives.

  2. Such a heartfelt piece of writing. Your gift for words is magnified so much by your love for the Lord. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

    • Dave, whenever I see you online I think of you as a gentleman: “A man of calm demeanor, strong preserve, intellectual thinking, polite yet meaningful speech and a good upbringing. A fighter for the cause of right.” Your words here mean much to me. Blessings!

  3. I remember this post, Renee. Your time with your mama was precious and I’m so glad the Lord allowed y’all to enjoy one another just a little longer, and to fashion lasting memories. Your words are always encouraging and I know she was encouraged by your words and presence. Praying for you as you walk this grief journey, my friend!

    • Thank you, Anne. I know you understand how grief feels—especially those emotions that crop up when you least expect them. I appreciate how you encourage all of us with your honesty & joy. Blessings!

  4. Renee, Time does fly…I did not know that a year had past. Thank you for sharing a very precious memory of time with your Mom. I am glad that God rallied her so Marsha and Joanne could have that time with her. So sweet. God Bless.

  5. Renee, Thank you for sharing this post. It is hard to lose those we love and you did a wonderful job of honoring your mother.

  6. I love this book. It’s unforgettable really. I love that your mom enjoyed it while she was so close. Thank you for sharing this with us. *hug* It’s been almost 3 years since I lost my dad and I miss him so.

    • I guess when we lose our parents, we feel like kids again. After that, life can be sweet, but it’s never quite the same. I’m glad you know this book, too, Juju. Thanks for your kindness!

  7. What a very sweet post this one was. I had a similar experience with my mother. My last few weeks of caring for her was tender and dear. I am looking forward to the movie on this book. I haven’t read it; but plan too. I was a hospice home health nurse for a few years and I witnessed some very spiritual moments with my patients and those beyond.
    Right now I have my dear Aunt Della who turned 100 years old last year and she is now in the dying process. I am very close to her and so I am struggling with losing her but she is so ready to go. Thanks heavens for having a testimony of the Savior and of heaven.
    Blessings for this one; it was touching!

    • LeAnn, I remember that you were a hospice nurse. And what a blessing for the folks you ministered to. This book would probably bring back some very special memories for you. We’ll have to compare notes after the movie comes out! I’ll be praying you & your Aunt Della. Blessings, my friend.

  8. oh friend–aching for the loss of your mom, and yet, so grateful for these memories and that she is now in heaven. i love this: We know that God has conquered death, trampled it under His heel. Now death is simply the last foe a Christian fights before the blessed home-going and the joy that lasts forever in the land where he is not allowed.

    thank you for linking with #imperfectprose! e.

  9. Beautiful post. I have tears streaming as I am typing. How precious a memory to always have of reading about heaven with your mom. Thank you for sharing such tender memories. Blessings!

  10. Oh, Renee
    I really identified with this post today! I,too, had a difficult relationship with my mother….I didn’t see her the last 20 years of her life but I still knew I had to forgive her for all the hurt she had inflicted. When she finally passed, I was glad I did that. My Pastor said, today, that forgiveness doesn’t always mean we will have relationship….a very comforting thing for me. It was almost a Mother’s Day gift! I’m glad that your mom is in glory and I pray that mine is too and that one day we can have what we missed here on earth. Thanks for sharing….that is your gift! jean

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