My great grandmother was 92 years old when she died and everyone said she went to heaven because she was a "lady" and had always upheld the name of Jesus in her life and home.
My grandmother, Bernice, told me about my great-grandmother many times and I always remembered the things she told me. On a few occasions, I picked up knowledge that I would never forget.
Once, when she was talking about dying, she said, "When Granny Rose was old, she would lay in bed at night and holler to someone outside her winda. Always the same thing, she would yell, 'Get them kids away from my winda' while I'm trying to sleep. I can hear them same songs at church.'"
Of course, my grandmother knew that there was no-one at the window, atleast she couldn't hear anyone, and my Great Granny Rose was real old. But, my grandmother told me that she thought the music came from heaven as a sign that Great Granny Rose would soon die and be met by angels.
Years passed, I grew up, and my grandmother got cancer between her lung and heart. She went to the hospital for years and eventually got so weak she had to stay in bed. I decided that I should stay home with her because I was the oldest grandchild and, being a writer, I could work at home. No one argued because they knew I was her favorite.
The time spent with grandma was a special time, I read Charles Dickens to her and watched "TV Land" with her. I spent every moment I could holding her hand and telling her of my love, because I knew that her time was growing short.
One night, close to bedtime, she was wide awake and surprisingly active, which made me quite sad because I've heard that the dying get an unexpected burst of life just before death. I sat with her well into the night, asking her questions about her childhood, which she liked to remember, and questions about my ancestors, which she knew about very well. We talked about everything, until suddenly she grew quiet.
"What's wrong granny?" I asked.
Then, she started sobbing, quietly .
This immediately made me want to cry, but I held in my emotion for her sake. "Just tell me, granny. What?"
After a moment, she steadied herself, and said, "I can't hear them. I can't hear anything."
"I can't hear them singing, but I know I'm dying."
Even though it had been years, maybe more than a decade, since I'd heard the story about the angels at Granny Rose's window, I knew what she was talking about, but there was nothing I dared say. I only sat quietly.
"You know," she said, "James knew what came to get him just like Granny Rose did. They both knew where they were going."
James was my grandfather who had died a few years back from sclerosis of the liver. I never knew that he saw something before dying, but I knew granny would know. He was her husband.
"James never wanted me to leave the hospital room," granny said, "not even to get coffee. He would grab my arm and beg me to stay. He'd beg me to send someone else after the coffee. 'If you leave,' he would say, 'It'll get me, sure as the world.' But, I always went anyway and left him in his room alone."
I didn't want to interrupt my grandmother in her story, but my curiosity got the best of me and I asked, "What did he see granny, angels like Granny Rose?"
She laughed, weakly, "no, honey, James saw devils at his bedside." This sent chills down me in waves. "He told me they sat at the bottom of his bed and tickled his feet when he tried to sleep. He said they came to get him, but first he had to surrender to them."
I wondered, if that could be true, if Great Granny Rose finally surrendered to the angel's music, instead of telling them to leave her alone, and if the same was true with my grandpa. Did he surrender to the devils?
"But there's no-one here for me," granny sobbed.
The quiet stretched out for a long time, as we both listened for the angel's music, and I said, "But granny, thats good. That means your going to stay around for a while."
She smiled weakly, listening for the music.
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