Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Mom and Dad's Journeys Through "the Door"

"After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven..." -Rev.4:1
It's been a month and a half since my Mother died. I knew the day she left I would write about the experience of watching her go—but it's taken this long to be able to do so. (Photo: Mom and Dad at the coast)
Holding my Mom's hand, helping her through the 'birthing process' of separating spirit from body, was both the most extraordinary and most difficult experience of my life.
But in order to fully tell of Mom's journey, I've got to back up about 10 months to my father's passing from this world, and what he told us he saw before he died.
Some background; both my mother and father have been faithful Christians, very involved in their church, doing Bible studies and devotions regularly... I—and my siblings—are blessed with a wonderful, heritage of faith.
Last June, my Dad—at 90 years-young—lay on a hospital bed in my parents' living room with 'aspirating pneumonia.' Hospice had been called in and we knew it wouldn't be long before he left us. In the dying process, he struggled with pain and "itching" in his feet, and my siblings and I would take turns massaging them.
During one of these times, my sister, Jill was rubbing his feet when he suddenly said, "Look out, Jill, when the door opens it'll hit you."
Jill was standing next to the living room wall—there was no door behind her... at least none that WE could see.
Jill quickly realized Dad must be talking about a doorway between this life and Heaven. She told him, "I can duck very fast, and move out of the way in time."
We are a family who believe in prayer, so my sister-in-law, Marie—who was visiting Dad—had requested prayer on my father's behalf from a friend of hers, Renea. This friend called Marie to see how Dad was doing, and Marie told her about 'the door.' Renea became silent.
When Marie asked her what was wrong, Renea told her, "Oh that's a prayer verification. When I was praying last night I saw a door, and Richard and the Lord were waiting behind it." (My brother, Richard—Marie's husband—had died in 2009)
About two days later, Dad was in his final hours and our wonderful Hospice nurse, Norita, was tending to him, when he again mentioned "the door," however he told her it was locked. From what I understand (I wasn't present at the time) something like the following conversation ensued...
"It's locked Mr. Frank? Well, do you have a key to the door?"
"No, I don't have keys for it."
Norita pretends to put something in my father's hand. "I brought a key, Mr. Frank, try this one."
A few minutes later Norita asks my dad if the key opened the door.
"No, it didn't fit."
She again pretends to put a key in my father's hand. "Well, I have lots of keys… here, try another!"
After a few more minutes... "Did that key fit, Mr. Frank?"
"Yeah... that one fit."
"OK well Mr. Frank, when you're ready, you go ahead and turn that key in the lock, open the door and walk through to Richard and Jesus."
It wasn't long after ‘til he did just that, and quietly passed away with my mother holding his hand sitting next to him. They had been married for 67 years.
My Mother
After my father died, my mother—who had always wanted to experience living in "the valley" (Willamette Valley that is), as opposed to Central Oregon where my dad wanted to be—had made the decision to move to an assisted living facility near me.
By September, we found one for her with a very nice, spacious apartment and porch, and she settled in as much as an 86-year-old, grieving widow can. She especially enjoyed Bingo and times when the activity director would pull out his guitar and lead them in song. (Photo: Mom's one-and-only 'selfie')
I still have a voice mail recording of her (priceless now) when she called me during one of those times, singing our family's favorite song, with which she had taught each of us to harmonize; "You Are My Sunshine."

But Mom was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure much worse than she let on, I think. And she missed my father terribly.
One day in mid-February I noticed her fingers and toes had swollen up, and I brought her to the hospital—she would never return to her apartment.
Mom's Journey Through the ‘Door'
Mom was lucid and carrying on conversations with all her family who came to visit her in the hospital; it was Valentine's Day and we filled her room with flowers. My husband even smuggled in some chocolate covered strawberries for her.
Later that night she insisted we all go home and get some sleep and she'd see us the next day.
I was called back to the hospital at 5am that next morning. The nurse said he wanted to call me earlier, but my mother didn't want to wake us up.
Now as I entered her room I could see she was already beginning her journey home.
Several generations were represented as we gathered around my mom—I didn't want to let go of her hand.
We talked to her, and sang and sat on chairs and benches pulled up near... as she lay back, in her bed.
Then suddenly Mom sat up—staring straight in front of her with a look on her face of complete amazement and wonder.
We all stopped in mid-sentence, waiting to see what would happen next.
She slowly sank back into her bed for a while, and then without warning, she would struggle to sit up again, having that same expression.
This happened several times, and with each one, we would fall silent, waiting to see what she would do.
Once I was adjusting Mom's pillows so she could more easily sit up, and I told her, "There, now you can see the 'door' better." She got a big smile on her face and nodded 'yes.'
We were laughing a little about this when she again sat up looking straight ahead, and for the first time since this process had begun she spoke in a hoarse voice and said, "Say prayers!"
All of us jumped up grabbing each others' hands and hers, and began to pray... and sing... and pray some more.
Then she just lay back in her bed for a while.
The next phase of my mom's journey was much more strenuous for her; it was truly a separating of her spirit with her body, until it was finally over and she exhaled her last breath in peace.
The most accurate description is that it was very much like giving birth except you don't have the joyous result on this side of Heaven.
Or... this side of 'the door.'
I had wanted to ask my mom to somehow give me a sign that all was well, if she could, when she arrived in Heaven; but I never got the chance.
The next day my sister and I went to Mom's assisted living facility.
As we walked inside the front doors, there in the main room was the activity director with his guitar. It suddenly occurred to us what he was playing and singing—and there was the sign from my Mom...
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey..."
For now, I'll miss you Mom, Dad and Richard... but I know I'll see you all again.
And I know who will be on the other side of the 'door' when the Lord calls me home.


rick dalbey said...

Thanks Aimee. My Dad is in Hospice care in his memory care facility at Edgewood Downs in Beaverton. Mom lives next door in Independent living. Dad is a real believer but has had his intellectual abilities, memories and body stolen by Alzheimers. We are waiting for his passing and excited by his graduation. This was very helpful.

Steve Shultz said...

Very Encouraging Aimee. Had me in tears. My Father-in-law and mother-in-law are close to this. This gives me hope.

Rick Dalby, my father-in-law (above) built and used to own Edgewood Downs. I used to help Market that facility.

Steve Shultz

paula leffert said...

Thank you, Aimee. The way you describe your parents' transition to eternal life in this article is exactly how I felt last week when I woke up in the middle of the night after I had been listening to our recent Wednesday night spontaneous prophetic worship while at the same time I was reading "Enoch's Blessing" by Michael Fickess. When I woke up suddenly, I felt like I was holding on to this life and afraid to let myself go as I found myself saying to the Lord, "Lord, if my physical body is here, I want to be able to connect with the people here." Somehow that gave me peace and I fell back asleep.

Since then, though, I have regretted saying that to the Lord; not feeling guilty, but realizing the fear that was behind what I said to Him. I realized the fear was the fear of being so caught up with the Lord that I wouldn't be cognizant and thus would bring reproach to Christ and my family. (Where did that thought originate from? I must've heard it along the way and the fear took root and became a hindrance before I knew the truth.)

I've pondered these things a lot with the Lord and repented of that fear of 'saving my life' and released my life back in the hands of the Lord where it's always been anyway. I hope you're understanding the context of what I am trying to communicate here... I'm healthy and not wanting to go and not live here in the sense of someone who is depressed or something. I am joyful here and not wanting to control the season of my departure, but when the Lord brings me into His realm and gives me a taste of being completed and free of sin, although momentary, my soul knows where it belongs and destined to be for all eternity with Jesus Christ. When I 'come back' from being caught up in the Spirit, there is left within me an increasingly growing longing for what I know to be my true home, then the readjustment to the present-here takes place, again in moments. So, in 'time', there is quite a lot that has just happened in moments. It has taken about a week or so to readjust to what happened to me or what the Lord is doing in me. I think the new wine is forming the new wineskin.

Your article gave me more understanding of the birthing process. It isn't just happening to those that have their bodies dying, it is happening to those of us,the bride of Christ, as she is making herself ready. I believe there is an Enoch anointing on the end time generation of the body of Christ to have one desire, and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, dead, buried, and risen again as we live out His life in the flesh by faith walking in the Spirit. Gal.2:20.

Just as mass debris burns away the closer it gets to the sun and eventually becomes gas so it is with the Bride of Christ as she draws near to the Son and the fire in His eyes burn away the fears of the flesh. We are in such exciting times to actually witness the glory of the Lord as it covers the earth.

Paula Leffert

Cindy Davis said...

Bless you sister in Christ...what a precious Home-Coming. Our Lord is so good to give us such gifts the world does not have. Thank-you so much for sharing!!!!

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