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Joining Her Sister in Heaven

She waited to die until her birthday, and until she knew that her little sister was already in heaven.

Dear Trudy, You have captured stories of faith and proof that there is a heaven. It is comforting to read about others who have confirmed that this life on Earth is not the end. Thank you.

My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and was in an assisted-living home for a few years before she had to be moved into the nursing home section for full-time care. Her sister was there every day to ensure that she was OK as well as to provide her with some company.

Her condition worsened and she died on Christmas night in 2000. She would have chosen this day for her “going home,” and perhaps she did because it was the birthday of her Savior. She was 88. Prior to Mama’s death, I had to place her sister in the assisted-living home and then quickly into the nursing home section, because she could no longer care for herself.

Her sister slept most of the time and was probably in a coma because she was not responsive to anyone. When my mother died, I went to her sister’s room to tell her. I leaned over and whispered in her ear that Mama, her little sister, had died, and that it was all right for her to go home and join her.

There was no response. I didn’t think much about it at the time. On her birthday, only two weeks after Mama died, she passed away. She was 91. At her funeral, I was talking with one of her friends from the assisted living/nursing home and mentioned how unusual it seemed to me that she died on her birthday. Her friend said it is very common to see patients pass away on their birthdays. She had witnessed many occasions in her 30 years at the home. It seemed to her that their birthday was a goal, and once it was achieved, it was OK to go.

I believe that my aunt heard my words when I told her that Mama had died. She then knew that it was OK for her to go home because Mama no longer needed her. There are many unknowns surrounding death, but I take great comfort in knowing that heaven is real and one day I’ll be reunited with Mama and her sister Sarah.

Al Cato
Roswell, Georgia


Dear Al,

Thank you so much for your very beautiful letter about your mother and your Aunt Sarah. How blessed you were to have them in your company for so many years. It had to be wonderfully comforting for them to know that you loved them so well and would take care of them until they went home to God. 

Working in the world of hospice care has taught us many things. One is the fact that people often choose when to let go. We know that because they will ask to have their family members go some place special, like Disney World, and when you tell them that they have left, they die. One patient in my care waited for the oldest son to arrive. When he came into the room and announced himself, she said, “OK, I’m going to go now, bye-bye,” and she died. To die on the birthday of Jesus was wonderful for your mother, and for your aunt to join her on her own birthday was very special as well.

I am more than certain that when you told your aunt that her baby sister was already in heaven, she felt free enough to leave this Earth, to join her there. What exquisite memories they have left you. One of my dearest friends died a few weeks ago on her birthday. Only God could give her heaven for a birthday present.

God bless you and yours,
Trudy Harris

Trudy gets so many questions from Guideposts readers, we decided to make her answers a regular feature on her blog. If you have a story about a “glimpse of heaven,” please share it with us. Send it to glimpsesofheaven@guideposts.org.

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