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An Answered Prayer at a Mother’s Death

How an elderly mother got the kind of passing that she and her family prayed for. 

The Hamlin family
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Mom was never one to linger at the exit of a party. Nor was she ever one to experience bouts of serious illness. So on Monday night when my brother called to tell me that she’d been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, I booked a flight and flew across the country the next day to be with her and my beloved siblings.

Immensely proud of her family, she announced to the hospital staff more than once that she had “four children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.” Quick to add that the last time she was a patient at that hospital—or at any hospital for that matter—was when she had her last child, 62 years earlier.

She didn’t want to be there. She was concerned about missing her book group on Wednesday and there was a luncheon she planned to go to on Thursday. “Mom,” we insisted, “you need to be here.”

Still, I assumed that she’d go back to her house, the place she moved to after Dad died. We’d need to arrange for additional care—that was a no brainer—but she’d get through this or be around for a while. She was only 93.

Something happened that last day, though, Thursday, her third full day there. All at once she started talking about death. And talking about friends who had died before her. About Dad, about relatives. The names came up as though the people were near.

That afternoon the minister from church came by, Bible in hand, and asked her what her favorite Bible verse was. “The one with ‘eagle’s wings,” she said. Isaiah 40. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings of eagles.”

The minister read the passage, we joined hands in prayer, and I pulled up the song “He will raise you up on eagle’s wings” on my phone, singing along. Mom seemed to join in with us. Then she was heard to say—the sort of phrase I’d never heard from her before: “I’m going to the Lord’s house soon.” Sooner than any of us realized.

Grandchildren came by. She was getting tired, she said, she wanted to sleep. We went out to dinner and came back. She sent us home. She wanted rest.

That night we got the call. She died a little before 11:00.

I’ve written before about a prayer I learned from an octogenarian years ago: “Mom, when the time comes, I pray that you get a direct flight.” Yes, Mom said, that would be good.

A direct flight. Wasn’t this just that?

Of course I miss her. I see her in my mind’s eye. I’m not sure what life could possibly be without her—without hearing that relentlessly positive voice over the phone, cheery, affirming, loving. She left as she lived. Practical, caring, faith-filled. It seemed as though her prayer, and mine, were answered. 

In the meanwhile, say a prayer or two for us who miss her so.

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