The night Val greeted me as “Barbie’ when I walked into the Christmas dinner held by the River Church, I knew ours would be a great friendship. Ten years later it flourishes strong, and this week it went to a new level.
I haven’t activated messenger on my phone, so messages, naturally, are ignored while I surf. Three days ago I was happily replying to posts, even one to Val herself, oblivious to her whisper sitting in Messages. Later I picked it up. Val had written: “Just with Mom right now.” and described that Gladys was on her passage to the afterlife after 91 years on earth.
Gladys Mc.Dade April 5, 1930 – February 12, 2021
I’ve never met Gladys in person but I followed enough posts, and “liked” and commented on photos of her to count them as if I have known her. Yet, to speak of Gladys is to speak of her wonderful daughter Val and her equally wonderful husband Dennis.
Vivacious, extroverted, joyful Val. I pray that these words will help you navigate the uncertain terrain of grief in the days that follow.
Gladys was born on April 5, 1930. The pictures Val posted of her showed the beauty that she was (such as the ones in this blog). Gladys and her husband Bill had two delightful children, George and Val, and both speak of being blessed to have such incredible, loving parents.
Their hearts were so large that they opened it to fostering over 100 individuals during the 35 years they shared together. As God was their refuge, they extended refuge. Such love reflected the heart of God in both Bill and Gladys, and it filters down to Val as we know her today. (She still collects parcels for me as courier does not work in the rural countryside.)
For decades Val and Dennis drove to the care home to visit Mom. Their world was wrapped in hers. Val fed her meals at lunch and supper at the Home, while she ate her own around these hours. The times we met for coffee at A&W were sandwiched between the hours she had to feed Mom. Few mothers have experienced such devotion as Val showed her mom.
Val, she was your world; you, her only girl.
The pictures on social media showed Mom’s hair and makeup immaculate. Her nails were pristine, acts that your smooth hands painted on fingers twisted by arthritis. Dennis, you danced Mom on her wheelchair at the recreational activities.
Covid-19 made it difficult to share the last few months but you managed with Facetime for a while. You stood outside the window and talked to Mom, touching her face through the glass pane. Mom did not understand why she couldn’t see you up close in person. Words like pandemic and social distancing were not in her vocabulary. But I’m certain she understood your arms stretched towards her.
As with all the memory pieces I write, I pen this from my heart. Last week I experienced a miraculous week of unexpected, huge blessings. They were tangible and physical, and I was pensive when the week drew to a close. I discussed it with my husband and he wondered aloud why only a week. Why not a month or a year to live like this. I asked the Lord to help me to live like this ongoing. And He spoke to me that it is possible – the secret lies in daily consecration. And so began a second week of tangible unexpected blessings.
While I need physical elements to live in this physical world, my spirit yearns most for the things of God. The most spiritual, revelatory experiences I have had have been my visits to Eternity. Those near-death experiences where I have been taken up to Heaven and came back healed. In Chapter 7 of my memoir Touched By Eternity I write, “I want to be near the dying, the fearful, and the ones with questions…”
When I read Val’s message on February 10 a surge went though my body. My spirit leapt. This was the purpose of God awakening for the greater reason why I was sent back to earth three times.
When I released my book in 2019, Val was among the first to purchase a copy. At the reading at Melville Public Library, Val and Dennis arrived before I did. Since 2019 to now we have had many holy conversations that we’ve kept to ourselves. I know their experiences and faith align in totality with mine. So that God would impress on them to invite me into the ministry to their dying mom was not by chance. It was waiting for such a time as now.
On Wednesday night Dennis, Val, myself, and Gladys held a prayer vigil by phone. Val held the phone to Mom’s ear and I prayed and talked to her as the Lord impressed, even to calling her “Mom” as Val and Dennis do. God often speak to me through pictures flashing in my mind, and I shared those with Val as they unfolded. Mom had lain with her hands on the bed all day, but during the prayer she lifted one and held on to Val’s. This was the literal joy of the Lord producing strength. Heaven was here. The powerful movings of God that night are not mine to share. I am merely to point others to the Lord as Comforter, Healer, the Giver of Eternal Life. It was the most powerful hour of an already successful day
On Thursday we moved to text messaging, which allowed me to respond more promptly and privately to the photos and messages. I knew a “regiment” of friends and relatives were also praying for Mom, and God was hearing us collectively. That night we held another vigil by phone. Using a theme God impressed upon Val, I prayed for and talked to Mom of Heaven. The contents of that session are not to be shared here, but suffice to say that the reports that came by phone and text were beyond what we could ask or think.
Later I pondered how in a season of pandemic and death where physical visits are denied, that the Lord would unfold this ministry of hope to those who are on their deathbed. To bring reassurance in many forms to them of where they are going. To speak to their spirit in a language that they understand. And this pondering was the best aspect of a day that had already gone super well. Surely, He makes a way where there seems to be no way.
It was not without humour. I was alert to the fact that a text could come anytime of the night with news, so shortly after midnight when my phone beeped I grabbed it. The news – my internet provider was informing of data usage.
Friday unfolded with more real time updates and photos. But mostly I continued to pray for you, Val. I knew you had been strong, a constant presence with Mom, yet when the final exhalation ushered her out there’d be the grief that is a result of being human. The praying had been done. The peace had been established. The permissions to leave this world and go unfettered to her Lord and King had been released. The reunion with her dearly beloved husband was anticipated.
So at 10:40 p.m. Mom breathed her last, and Heaven gained its newest citizen. After 34 years Bill and Gladys hug each other, never to be separated again. Pain-free, young, and in their prime.
Gladys’ funeral will be held on February 20, 2021. Due to the protocols of the pandemic, only a few people can be accommodated. Val and Dennis will determine those few.
Val, Dennis, George and family, grandchildren and relatives, friends near and far:
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May He make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
With love and prayers,