All posts tagged preparing for death

Dead or Alive

“Pauline!” I smiled as Mom’s caregiver had to shout to get her attention since she can’t hear out of her right ear. Tom and I sat on the couch, getting ready to go into town.

“Pauline!” I heard again, this time with a tinge of panic in her voice.

“Do you mean me?”

“Yes. And come now!”

Running into her room, I searched Mom’s face. It was a combination of fear and panic, then as I watched, her eyes glazed over.

“Quick! We’ve got to get the food out of her mouth! Pull her up and hit her on her back!”

I complied—numb.

Tom ran in, climbed on the back of mom’s bed and tried to pull her up. Her body slumped back like a ragdoll. Her lips were blue as were her fingernails.

We continued to beat on her back.

“I can’t feel her pulse!” Tonya said.

We raised her arms as Tonya continued to try and unlock Mom’s mouth.

“I think she’s seizing! Let’s turn her on her left side,” Tonya shouted.

As she lay on her side, I thought This is it. Ninety-five years on this earth and it will end in a matter of minutes.

Then I remembered the Living Will Mom and I had filled out. She’d answered yes when the social worker had asked her if she’d like her family to hold her hand, play music, and express their love while she was dying.

“Tom, put on Christmas music.” I pulled a chair close to her good ear and stroked her hand. “Mom, I love you,” I said over and over again as tears coursed down my cheeks.

I cried out to God. I’m not even sure what I said. Then Mom gasped. Her eyes, which were dull and unfocused flitted and stared at me.

I sobbed.

A few minutes later, she moved her arm.

The Hospice nurse arrived to check Mom over. We’re not sure what happened, but whatever it was, it was quick.

It’s hard to catch your breath after that.

It’s not that I’m afraid of my mother dying. I know she’s going to heaven. By God’s grace and His Son’s sacrificial death, heaven is my eternal destination, too.

It just made me think.

For a while, my mother was suspended between heaven and earth—and it all happened so fast.

The Bible says this, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

So according to the Bible, we are all dead spiritually. It’s God who makes us alive in Christ.

We do need to do something. Cry out. Admit that we have trespassed or sinned against a holy God either in thought, word, or deed.

Romans 10:13 says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

This Christmas season, I’m grateful that the Lord heard my cry for my mom and I get to hang out with her a little while longer.

But I’m eternally thankful that God heard my cry for salvation.

And just like that, I became spiritually alive.

How about you?

(The above picture was taken in 2008 with three generations…)















Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

FYI, this blog is intense. There’s nothing funny in it unless I insert a knock-knock joke… we’ll see.

“Ma! Dorothy!”

I entered Mom’s room around 2am. Hands clenched behind her head, she called out into the darkness for her deceased mother and sister.

“Mom, it’s me, Pauline.” She turned her head the opposite way. “I’m over here, Mom.” Her head moved toward me as her eyes tried to focus.

“Where’s Pauline?”

“It’s me Mom. I’m Pauline.”

Focusing her eyes on me, her face relaxed.

“Were you sleeping?”

I assured her I was and that I very much wanted to return to bed.

As soon as I entered my room, guilt washed over me. Why couldn’t I be more patient? What must it feel like for Mom to not know where she is and who is there? 

Then sadness washed over me. Mom’s life is simple. She moves from her room to the table, occasionally onto the porch where the dogs lick her hands and check her bib for food scraps. A cat may hop into her lap or circle the wheelchair. She’s cared for and we love her, but it’s hard to watch. Harder to live.

Recently, my pastor began his message with, “We’re all going to die.” He quoted Larry King about his obsession with death.

I face death every day in the face of my mom. Before her, I watched my father die. I know what it looks like from a growing old point of view.

It ain’t pretty. But it’s not the end of the story. For a follower of Christ, there’s eternal hope. It’s not our best life now.

Good thing.

And I don’t even have a thing to complain about.

But I do–complain, that is.

My pastor went on to speak about the resurrection. Here’s what Paul said in I Cor. 15:53-57:

 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

That is a great promise. Victory over death.

The book of Hebrews helps me understand life, death, and the resurrection better when it describes Abraham’s life:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

When I’m overwhelmed with the decline of my mother or sin in the world or my own sin, I need to remember this…

I’m not home yet.

In America, it’s easy to want to hang around on earth.

It’s comfortable.

But it’s not home.

My mom is almost home.

She’s knockin on heaven’s door.

One day we will all be at that door and the only way to enter is through faith in Jesus Christ. Not good works, not church attendance, not even the stuff we didn’t do. Just faith.

Not to accept this free gift brings judgment.

So let me tell you a knock-knock joke. You decide if it’s funny…

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Will you enter?








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