Friday, July 20, 2012

Galloping into Heaven

My mother passed from this life into her eternal life 4 weeks ago today. Here is a short version of my view of what happened.

PRAISE THE LORD! I serve a risen Savior. Let me tell you the story of my Moma and the life she lived during her last few weeks on this earth before she “galloped” her way into the portals of heaven.

For many years my mother had been a Christian. There were times when she made mistakes and yes, she even sinned. But you know what, we all do that. But my mother turned to Jesus Christ and repented of her sins and she was forgiven. At times she was very outspoken on things that she believed to be wrong and she sometimes confronted people in their sins. When she confronted the sins, it was done out of love and concern for those around her. She was not “judging lest ye be judged” but rather calling out sin as she knew it to be based on her reading, meditating, and praying over the scriptures. She did not want anyone to perish, but have everlasting life.

When Moma was first diagnosed with her brain tumor, she became even more vocal in her witness. Even I, the preacher’s wife, became a little uncomfortable at times when she would call sin by its name and in general conversation would tell people that something they were doing was wrong. For her, it was her responsibility to let people know that there was a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. She wanted everyone to be with her in heaven; she loved them enough to point out their sins.

Did Moma approach this with a beam in her own eye? No, she had already had that beam removed. She had acknowledged and confessed her sins and repented and was forgiven. But more than that, she had a “know so” salvation and she took the great commission to heart. Everyone around her became her own personal mission field.

For each one of us, we all have our own ideas of who god is. I used a little g because I know a lot of people don’t believe in the one, true, living God who created all things in heaven and in earth. The same God who sent His only begotten Son as the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Some people make sacrifices to their own deity whether they are physical, mental, emotional or financial in order that they may have a good life here or in an afterlife. It makes them feel good without truly accepting the fact that there is nothing that we can do to earn salvation or for that matter to gain eternal life. It is only by accepting Jesus as Savior and the grace that He gives.

Throughout scripture, we learn of people who try to mix other ideas into the worship of God. Each time, it brought death and destruction. We MUST get back to the truth, which leads me into the last weeks of my mother’s life on this side of eternity.

Four short weeks before my mother died, she already knew that her brain tumor had come back even larger than it was before the original surgery four and a half months prior. In discussion between her, my brother and myself, we had collectively decided that we would do whatever it took for her to remain with us as long as possible and we were not going to give up until we knew that there was nothing more that could be done. She felt like she still had work to do and quite frankly my brother and I just weren’t ready to give her up yet. Anyway, she had been scheduled for a second surgery to have the brain tumor removed again and potentially to begin using a new regime of chemotherapy drugs.

But early on that Friday morning, my mother woke up my brother with excruciating pain in her stomach. He gave her some pain medication, but she was still hurting badly. He called an ambulance to come and get her and then he called me. I was driving so fast that I actually got to the hospital as the ambulance and my brother were arriving and I live about twenty five miles farther away. Once at the hospital, it seemed like everything was in slow motion. My mother was given a little pain medication but nothing seemed to help. Her CAT scan was delayed because of another patient being scanned that took longer than expected. In the meantime, I was given this large glass of water with contrast to see if I could get her to drink it all before the scan. But with each drink, she would scream out in pain. I finally quit trying as I felt that it was doing more harm than good.

At last, she was taken to have the CAT scan done. When she arrived back in the ER from the scan, things kicked into lightning speed mode. The CAT scan revealed a hole in her stomach. The contents were dumping from her stomach into her body cavity. Not only was this causing the pain, but it was poisoning her system. The surgeon and his team were called in and went to work immediately.

Moma had surgery to repair the damage. She made it through surgery alright and was sent to the overflow ICU. She appeared to be doing well into Friday night. She started waking up and was responsive. By Saturday morning, she had a little blood coming from her stomach, but there wasn’t any alarm as this is normal. However, all day Saturday her heart rate fluctuated between 125 and 145 beats per minute. Her heart was working too hard and she went into v-fib. But the nurses acted quickly and stabilized that situation. But, by midnight she was bleeding internally. With every breath, blood would come out of her mouth. She was given several pints of blood and a couple of procedures were tried in ICU, but none of them seemed to help. By 10pm Sunday night, the doctors were back in doing a second surgery where they discovered that there was a second hole in the stomach and that a blood vessel was opening. The doctors were able to repair this as well.

For the next few days, Moma appeared to be improving quite a bit. By Friday, she was very talkative and tired of the ICU. She was aware of everything around her, or at least so when she had her hearing aids in her ears. She and I had a very good conversation on Friday evening about me taking my youngest daughter on a trip the following morning. She told me to go ahead and take her because she was going to be fine.

On Saturday morning as we were headed to the airport, we stopped by the hospital. My mother was in excellent spirits and, again, very talkative. She asked about some of the details of our trip and told us to be careful and even expressed a desire to go with us if she could. She said for us not to worry because she would be there when we got back.

On Monday, she was moved to a regular room as she had improved from the surgery quite significantly. However, we now know that she was also displaying the beginning signs of her impending death. She had begun pulling at the covers and her clothing and she started reaching up into the air. We just thought that this was just her being tired of lying in the bed so long or that the brain tumor was pressing on something in her brain.

The hospitalist doctor had another MRI done and talked to us on Sunday evening. He did not believe that the doctor in Nashville would try to attempt to do surgery because of how large the tumor had grown. So on Monday morning he spoke with the neurosurgeon in Nashville who said that he wanted to see her to make the determination. By that afternoon, Moma was transported to Nashville. The nurse practitioner told me that she believed Moma was no longer a candidate for surgery but that the neurosurgeon would have to make the final decision.

On Tuesday morning the neurosurgeon gave us the dreaded news that the tumor had grown too large and he would not risk it as he didn’t believe it would help and it would decrease the quality of the life she had left. He also wanted the chemotherapy oncologist to review her case to determine if there might be some drugs that would help.

By Tuesday night, my mother had started the phase of dying where she was calling out for loved ones who had already died. And by Wednesday morning, she was in and out of a state of delirium, meaning, her spirit was already preparing for the crossing over phase. It was during this time that the chemotherapy oncologist gave his decision as to not proceed with any more therapy and that we should be prepared for her death within the next two to three weeks.

Moma had already asked me on Wednesday morning if she could go home. So after we received word that nothing else could be done, I told her that I would see about getting her home. I did just that by getting the hospital social worker to get the ball rolling on getting Moma home as soon as possible.

I stayed with Moma as late as I could on that Wednesday night. While I was with her, she started, once again, calling out for loved ones again. Then she stopped and started thanking Jesus. Many times she said “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus.” She asked me if she could go home. I told her that we are going to take her home as soon as we could. She then repeated that she wanted to go home. I could tell by the look in her eyes that something was different so I asked her which home, the one in Dickson or heaven. She told me she wanted to go on to heaven. She wanted to go on home to heaven. She would then break out into song.

On Thursday morning, I arrived at the hospital and I was in shock when I saw that Moma had been put in restraints. I knew that something must have happened in the night for this to happen. As it turns out, she was pulling at her IVs, feeding tube, and everything else she could get her hands on. She had developed what is called the “death grip” and had strength that I had never seen her display before this time.

I was trying feverously to get all the paperwork completed for hospice. This needed to be done so that the hospital bed and other items could be delivered to her home. We managed to get everything done and she left the hospital about 4:00pm by ambulance to head home. She seemed very relaxed and so ready to get there. She was smiling and talking to the EMTs as if they were her new best friends.

The hospice nurse came and gave us some literature to read and helped answer some of my questions about administering the medications and feeding Moma through the feeding tube. That first night seemed like it was going to be fine. I slept on the loveseat in the living room as I didn’t want to leave her alone. It wasn’t long, however, until she started screaming. She was calling for specific family members who had gone on years before. Some of those screams were of anguish. She was asking for help. She was reliving some bad times in her life and wanted help, but no one seemed to want to help her. I soon found out some things during part of her consciousness coupled with the delirium and visions of things she endured that I hadn’t been aware. It seemed as though she had some unresolved hurt in her life that she needed to rid herself of before she left this world.

During her visions, she would often speak of horses. She would ask if I could see the horses. She wanted her horse. In all the years of my life, my mother never spoke of horses except to say that her father had horses to pull the wagon when she was young, but she had never indicated that she had a horse. She never really seemed to like horses that much as I was growing up, yet, over and over again, she would call out for the horses. Periodically, she would mention that she was seeing the light or that she was seeing Jesus and would ask if I saw. I told her that what she saw was special and just for her to see and that God was giving it just to her.

By Tuesday, she was in pain. Her stomach and her head were both hurting. This was the first time since we had been home that she had indicated any pain at all. I gave her the liquid Tylenol with hydrocodone through her feeding tube, but that didn’t seem to help. I called the hospice nurse to come and walk me through the process of administering the morphine. She then gave Moma a small child’s dosage which seemed to ease her pain. Moma was able to rest for a while. Then during the night she started praising the Lord again. She would get loud at times and then she would cry a little. When I asked if she were alright, she would smile and shake her head yes.

On Wednesday, Moma wasn’t in pain but she was more in her state as a visionary. She would now see family members, but this time without hurt in her voice. She was still seeing Jesus and thanking Him while intermittently breaking out into song. She sang several, but when she sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” she would reach out. But finally, she called for her horse and it came.

During one of her visions, she was calling out “pearly gates, oh the pearly gates; do you see the pearly gates?” This went on for a while and as I looked at her, I noticed her left hand appeared in the position of holding on to the reins of a horse. She started moving in the bed as though she were on the horse riding; her right hand was waving in the air. She finally was moving so much that her bed was shaking as she appeared to be riding faster and faster and shouting “pearly gates, I see the pearly gates; do you see the pearly gates?" This went on for quite a while with periods of resting and praising Jesus.

Moma was seeing what she had believed and read about in the Bible. She saw the great light; she saw Jesus waiting for her; she saw and got to ride on her horse. She had seen the pearly gates. At the end of her consciousness, she was galloping faster and faster into heaven with a big smile on her face. After she had gone as fast as she could, then the movement stopped. She became unconscious on Wednesday evening and never regained consciousness before she died.

I believe, however, that a part of her knew that she didn’t want to go just yet because someone was missing. My oldest daughter had been away for four weeks. Although she came in for the weekend after two weeks, I believe that Moma was waiting on her to get home. When my daughter came into the room, she spoke and I believe that in some way, Moma could hear her voice and know that she was home safe and sound.

The hospice nurse came about 20 minutes after that and looked at Moma and explained some of the physical signs of dying to me. She then said that she thought Moma had about 2 to 24 hours left. At this point, my brother and I had already come to terms with the inevitable, so I started calling in the family.

Not quite 2 hours had passed and everyone that had already gathered had left the room for a few minutes except for me and my oldest daughter who had just dozed off to sleep on the loveseat. The room had gotten quiet and I was sitting beside of Moma’s bed holding her hand. Then I noticed one deep breath and then two shallow breaths and then nothing. Moma had peacefully exited this life as she was spiritually going into her eternal life galloping into heaven.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


OBSTACLES: Opportunities to educate others about the contributions that an educated, business professional who has given time as a public servant in the capacity of a teacher/educator actually is better at the IT craft now than before they went to teach.

EDUCATION: Teaching is so much more than knowing a particular content and telling others about it. As a society, we have lumped teachers into this mode of "those who can, do; those who can't, teach" mentality.

A professional educator is one who can do and is able to empower others to be able to do. A professional educator is also one who has significantly enhanced management skills and interpersonal communications skills as they are a requisite in minute-to-minute discourse in and out of the classroom.

As for the ability to be a project manager, teachers have unmovable dates and have to maintain the flexibility to get in everything that's important within the constraints and to work with all of the resources to make it happen. Instead of project plans, we have more detailed, lesson plans.

As for the ability to be a business analyst, teachers are the apex of elicitation skills. A teacher questions to the nth degree to ascertain each individual student's comprehension or lack thereof. A teacher is also able to provide various solutions to a problem; this is especially true in mathematics.

Documentation templates may look a little different, but let's face it, every IT shop within every business has a different template than any other business entity. Documents are geared toward the audience that utilizes it. When someone moves between one position to another, there is a learning curve on the specifics of the documentation. However, the many years of experiences are still very much engrained into our brain.

When someone is hired for a position, do they walk into the job knowing everything? I dare say, no! In my 30+ years in the workforce, I have never seen one person who had all knowledge to do all things. But rather, the person who has shown the ability to "figure it out" was the person who contributed most to the completion of whatever the objective was determined to be.

Someone who has the ability and the motivation to be a learner is the person who will get the job done. One who can easily and willingly learn will be the one who has the ability to lead!

Food for thought!