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Her Beloved Grandmother Chose the Perfect Way to Say Goodbye

The family matriarch visited her in a divine dream. 

Illustration of a young, happy woman

New Year’s Eve, 1984. My husband, our two little boys and I were visiting my in-laws in Amarillo, Texas. We watched the ball drop and welcomed the new year together. Our original plan had been to stay over, but I wasn’t feeling up to it. We decided to drive the few hours back to our home in Clovis, New Mexico. It had been a long night. A long year, really.

Grandma Marjorie, whom I was really close to, had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia. She’d been in and out of the hospital all year with breathing issues. Watching her health decline over the past few years had hit me hard, and I just needed some time to myself to process.

I settled into the passenger seat. My mind drifted to memories of Grandma Marjorie and her husband, Grandpa Joe.

Back in the 1960s and ’70s, when I was a kid, they’d lived just two hours away from us on a cattle ranch nestled in the Wet Mountains in Colorado. My cousins, siblings and I spent nearly every weekend there. It’s where I remember being the happiest. Riding horses on the property. Learning chess from Grandma Marjorie. Waking up at 5 A.M. to feed the cattle with Grandpa Joe. We’d do the work that needed to be done, then return to a hot breakfast cooked up by Grandma.

There were seven of us grandkids, but my grandparents somehow found the time to make each of us feel special and loved. Grandpa Joe was the crowd favorite. Affectionate and approachable, he was the one everyone went to for hugs. Grandma Marjorie was more stoic and reserved. But she and I had a special connection.

I was an anxious kid. I worried a lot and suffered from horrific nightmares. Whenever I woke up at their house in the middle of the night, it wasn’t my grandfather I’d run to. It was my grandmother. We bonded during these moments. She recognized that I needed a little more love and care than most kids did, but she never made me feel ashamed about it. Normally, she wasn’t cuddly, but in those wee hours of the morning before the sun rose, she’d hold me close, telling me everything was going to be okay.

“You’re just my sensitive girl,” she’d say, wrapping me in a warm embrace. Grandma Marjorie knew just how to make me feel safe in those vulnerable moments.

After I moved away from home and started my own family, my nightmares began to center around something new: my grandparents passing away. Watching them grow old and frail had forced me to ask myself some tough questions. What would I do without the man who showed me the value of hard work? Or the woman who gave me strength in the face of fear?

These nightmares were already haunting me when Grandma started to have recurring bouts of pneumonia. It had been hard for me to end my latest visit with her in the hospital. I didn’t want to say goodbye, fearing it might be the last time. Grandma Marjorie saw right through me and called me over for a hug, just like old times.

“Dana, sweetheart, I love you,” she said. “But it doesn’t help either of us for you to worry. Now my time will come, as it does for everybody. And when it does, just know that I’ll never really leave you.”

Her words ran through my head as I lay awake early on New Year’s Day, the kids asleep, my husband snoring softly beside me.

I drifted into a deep slumber. Suddenly I was standing in a beautiful field. A breeze swirled around me and rustled through the tall grass. The sun reflected off the stalks, creating an ocean of gold. It felt as if I’d been plucked from my bed and transported here.

Am I dreaming? I wondered. I couldn’t be sure. The land felt familiar. I looked around and I realized it was a version of Grandma and Grandpa’s ranch but even more beautiful than I remembered.

I noticed someone standing in the field. A young woman, maybe in her thirties, wearing a blue dress. She looked at me and smiled. Her gray-blue eyes shone through horn-rimmed glasses; her windswept dark brown hair was in a 1950s-style pixie cut. I knew her. It was Grandma Marjorie—but young again. Far younger than when I’d known her. I recognized her from a photograph I’d seen at their house when I was a child. Here, in this place, she was happy, healthy and full of life.

She started running through the field. My spirit lifted just seeing her, and joy spread through every fiber of my being. It was the happiest dream I’d ever had. I woke up, still smiling.

Though the sun was barely creeping through our blinds, I got up and called Grandma Marjorie. I wanted to tell her what I’d experienced. Instead, my mom answered.

“Dana, I didn’t realize you were home,” she said. “I would’ve called.…”

“What is it?” I asked.

“I’m so sorry, sweetie,” she said. “Grandma died last night.”

The words hit me like a punch. Yet right there in that moment of searing grief, my mind flashed to that image from the dream, of Grandma Marjorie running freely on her ranch, young and healthy and joyful. Deep in my soul, I knew that I’d been given a divine gift, a reminder that Grandma was at peace and would always be with me. She’d known exactly where to reach me while on her way to heaven, and she’d stopped by to comfort her sensitive granddaughter one more time.

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