We’ve been keeping vigil by the bedside of my 96-year old mother-in-law. She doesn’t have long before she passes from this world into eternity. Every breath faintly floods our ears as we stare at the coverlet rising and falling. Wondering if the next might be her last.



Questions plague us. Does it hurt to die? Where is this state between life and death? She’s neither here nor there. How can she hang on without any life support? She has a strong will to live even though life as she once knew has passed. Does she know we’re here?

Emotions are mixed at times like this. Relieved that her suffering is almost over. Mourning she’ll be gone from us forever. How we’ll miss this woman!

We knew this day was coming. We’ve been losing her for years. Dementia stole her from us way too early. Her blank stares pierced our hearts over and over again. To her we’ve been but strangers.

Loss of memory. Loss of dignity. Strangers providing what we can’t for a mom in need of constant care. How difficult is this aging process!

Feelings of helplessness often overwhelmed us. Not knowing how to demonstrate love to one captured in confusion. As if trapped behind prison walls. If we could only have torn down those barriers and have her back again. Like she once was.

The one who fixed dinner in her Sunday best. An apron tied neatly at her waist. High heel shoes clicking on the kitchen tile as she moved from stove to table. She lovingly served us spaghetti, a  recipe handed down through the generations. A flavor none could match. She’d smile as she stacked strands of pasta neatly across our plates. Fulfilled in her mission to serve her family. Delighted at the oohs and ahs of rich red sauce tickling our pallets. Her homemade sauce took two days of simmering. Arlene made our family dinners warm and inviting. No one could take her place.

The one who corrected our grammar. Made sure we walked the straight and narrow and always knew the right answer.

The pastor’s wife who enriched her husband’s ministry and loved people unconditionally.

The school teacher who made a difference in hundreds of children from New Jersey to Indiana.

The Mother and Grandmother who loved us well as she showered us with her wisdom.

The friend and mentor everyone cherished.

The one who rocked my babies to sleep. Read them bedtime stories. Advised this young mom out of her rich wealth of information and experience.

She gave. And she gave. And we all benefited.

They tell us her days are numbered but she continues to hold on to life. Not struggling but gently slipping away. Moment by moment. Her breathing is labored. Eyes closed to the world around her. We tell her again how much she means to us. And how we’ll miss her.

We wait and God’s grace abounds. His presence comforts. His truth strengthens. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That is the hope we stake our lives on.

I can only imagine how it will be as Arlene breathes her last. The lover of her soul will welcome her  home with open arms saying,”Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Ed will be there, too. He’s been waiting.

And somehow heaven will become dearer than we ever imagined.




  1. As I sit here reading your new post, my eyes are filled with tears. I knew you would write a beautiful story about Mrs. Cooper. I was just telling Stevie how she and Mr. Cooper would come to the office bringing their delicious coffee cake. I always looked forward to their little visits. She is beautiful lady and will be missed. Praying for Dave and all the family during this very difficult time. Love and Blessings.

    1. Thank you, Linda, for reminding us of those sweet memories. Knowing she will soon be with the Lord brings great comfort. I know you understand the loss of a precious mother. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!

  2. We experienced many of these same thoughts & feelings when Dale’s mother passed from this world into the eternal realm of heaven too. Life becomes something both gentle & precious during these ending moments as we watch & wait. Knowing that person we love is “nearing home” is what gives us peace & a hope to go on. Our salvation takes on a whole new meaning within our own hearts. Life is fragile, but the hope of seeing Jesus keeps us strong. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I know you and Dale have been through many valleys and found strength in the Lord over and over again. You are a testimony of faith and trust in Jesus. Thanks for your sweet comments and encouragement. What would we do without our hope in Christ!

  3. IT IS SHOUTING TIME IN HEAVEN – GOD needed another Angel to sing in HIS choir – along with Arlene’s Husband – Ed – and my husband –Louis Rich. Arlene was a GODLY woman – a pastor’s wife and worked for the Kingdom of GOD along beside her husband. Arlene was a wonderful friend with always a smile on her face – she helped so many people in her life time to find the way in their lives. We attended the same church in Indianapolis. Arlene will be missed by her friends and her family. My prayers for the family and friends – we have lost a great person in our lives.

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