Filed Under:  Opinion

A mother’s passage to heaven is special

3rd September 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

Getting in just under the wire Tuesday, August 13, at 9:00 p.m. when the public doors are locked, I was privileged to visit Gloria Greene in Harris Hospital Downtown. I had barely missed her husband Hillary accompanied by Janae and Aaron whom Gloria had “dismissed” because she wanted to rest. But Janae and Aaron were still downstairs in the parking lot.

I discovered all this when I called Janae on her cell phone, inquiring about the room number of her mother. The banished visitors were back in a jiffy to join me, no longer fearing dismissal since reinforcements had arrived to start a new clock on visiting.

Wan and weary, Gloria was nonetheless fully aware of each of us in the room, even though she did not turn her eyes much in the direction of each person. Apart from important information from Gloria’s nurse who popped in a couple of times, most of our conversation was encouraging banter about family, church, prayer and the hospital staff and facilities.

At length, Gloria got down to business, inviting me, “Pray for me, father.” Without hesitating, I began to pray, thanking God for Gloria, for her life as mother of a family, asking that our precious Lord would continue to strengthen her faith, her hope, her love, and that the Lord would touch the minds, hands and skills of the doctors and nurses in all their work.

“Who are all those people standing there?” she asked some time after I had finished. “Mama, it’s just Cordelia (night nurse), Aaron, father and I,” Janae countered.

“All right, then. I can go to sleep now,” Gloria sighed.

Soon it was time to leave, blowing kisses and prayers to Gloria, wishing her all God’s graces. As the night wore on, I mused sadly that it took this many years for me to realize that the walkways without and corridors within the hospitals are far more than drear passageways to and from the bedside of fellow humans afflicted with serious, even terminal disorders.

No, these passageways are not drear at all, but rather hope-filled pathways to healing of the mind, the nerves, the emotions, the body and – all else failing – the soul. It is no stretch to say that we are standing and walking on holy ground when we tread these paths. Especially when we are part of the honor guard accompanying a mother on the final stretch of her journey through life, we are overwhelmed by the feeling that the ground on which we are standing is holy ground hallowed by the sacredness of motherhood. Countless are the mothers and others who hallowed that ground by their holy transition to eternal life.

I should have known that something special was afoot around six o’clock in the morning, for the heavens were opened as lightning flashed across the sky followed quickly by heavy booms of thunder and driving rain pounding the roof. It was at that very hour that Gloria’s soul took flight from her body to her true home in her Father’s heavenly kingdom.

When church secretary Delores Newton phoned in the information from Janae that her mother had transitioned, I said a hearty “Thank you, Lord!” that I was privileged to see and visit Gloria eight hours earlier, joining in prayer for her and with her and her family as she positioned herself to make the most of the most important thing she would do on earth.

Yes, making our final connection to our Creator and Savior is the last, the ultimate and the most important thing we will ever do here on earth, climaxing our entire life of faith, hope and love as expressed in all our good thoughts, beneficial words and dedicated works of service that we have done for any of our sisters and brothers anywhere on this planet.

Sharonda Jones had phoned me from Richmond, California on August 10, saying that her mother Sharon was asking for me. How-ever, 1707 miles lay between me and my friends as they lifted their painful, poignant prayers to God who was calling Sharon. Despite her oxygen mask, Sharon and I managed to exchange a few words of love, farewell and blessing.

In a call the next night, we joined in a long-distance prayer vigil to uplift and comfort Sharon. Since Sharonda was eager to read prayers, I asked her to get her Bible and proceed to read Psalm 23, which she did with great feeling and devotion. Then I suggested Psalm 27, then 51, 119, 121. Periodically, Sharonda interrupted her reading to talk to the nurse who was monitoring Sharon. At 1:10 a.m., Central Daylight Saving Time, Sharon’s soul took flight.

Thank God for the magic of electronics! What distance did not allow was provided for second-best through telephone. If God gives life, I will fly to Oakland for the homegoing of Sharon, the gentle, quiet type of matriarch with open arms for all, especially the neglected.

Gloria was the type of matriarch who always pushed everyone, especially Janae, to be good, to be better, to be best, to excel in everything by being all she could be. As teacher, she brought dirty girls home to scrub them clean and counsel them. Thank God for our mothers!

This article originally published in the September 02, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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