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Gloria’s Time

In this excerpt from author Trudy Harris, the dying matriarch of a faith-filled family seemed to be waiting for just the right moment.

Trudy Harris

Gloria was eighty-seven and the matriarch of a large African-American family.

She lived in a tiny house in a wooded area near a very busy highway. She had raised her family in this beautifully kept wooden structure, which had obviously been loved and tended to carefully. Over many years she had educated her children, all of whom had gone to college.

Family life had been filled with strong faith, church attendance, choir practice, and discipline. You could say this was a “faith-filled family.”

On my first visit, I could see that Gloria was in charge. She called all the shots, and her family revered her. They knew that she was declining quickly but found it hard to let her go.

There seemed to be someone or something missing, something not yet in place according to plan. Her family hovered over her day and night, trying at every turn to anticipate and meet all of her needs. Time passed quietly.

At one point, Gloria had been unresponsive with no intake or output for about three days, and her respirations were barely detectable.

Her very large and loving family never left her side. One night I stayed until midnight, believing that each breath would be her last. It was not to be; Gloria had other plans, and she simply was not ready to go.

The family sang beautiful hymns to her, recited some of her favorite Bible verses, and praised God for her life. It was amazing to see the joy and sorrow on their faces but also to hear the very carefully nurtured faith they had been taught by her, expressed with such gusto.

Who or what is she waiting for? I wondered. When asked by her family to pray with her, I did so quietly, hoping I could remember the twenty-third psalm, which they all knew by heart. By now it was midnight, and nothing was changing for Gloria. She seemed so peaceful, resting quietly, and so I left for the night.

The next morning I stopped by to see her about 8:00 a.m. “Wait until you see Mama,” her family said as I arrived at the front door. This very same lady, who as of last night had not responded for three days, was sitting up in bed with a huge smile on her face. She was as aware and in charge as I had ever seen her.

“You pray real good, honey,” she said to me as I entered the room, reflecting the fact that she had been very aware of everything the night before, just not responding.

Suddenly there was great activity and excitement at the front door. “He’s here now,” she said, beaming as her eldest son, the one for whom she had been waiting, finally arrived.

“I’m here now, Mama,” said the tall, handsome man as he gently bent down to hug and kiss her. Laying her head back on the pillow and looking up at her oldest son’s eyes, she said, “I know you are. I’m going to go now; bye-bye.” And she closed her eyes and died.

I was speechless. Gloria waited until the one person who would know how to handle everything arrived. He was the one to take her place now and protect and guide this family; he knew it and she knew it, and that was that.

Gloria left the family in “good hands,” with everything in order, the way she had done all her life. I had never seen anything quite like that before.

In Gloria’s life, family hierarchy, authority, and responsibility were all important. Her family was built on a firm foundation of faith in God. Through the challenges and hardships she faced since her birth at the turn of the century, she rested on Him. She had conducted her affairs and a very successful family life in this way, and she left this world with the confidence that her work had great meaning and would be passed on to others.

Gloria lived the life she was dealt to the fullest with a quiet strength built on faith. She started with nothing and accomplished everything—a real-life success story.

Read more stories about heaven and the afterlife.

Reprinted with permission from Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris, RN, ©2010 by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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