This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine Gift to Heaven

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In the fall of 2001, my 82-year-old grandmother suffered a massive heart attack. Each day, she grew weaker and weaker.Over the next four months, the doctors warned us that Grandma wouldn’t live much longer, but a piece of my heart kept willing her to live. She had been part of my childhood memories and at all the important occasions in my adult life. I couldn’t imagine a future without her, but that day came on February 14, 2002, Valentine’s Day.  

During those last months with her, I knew she believed in God, but that was all I knew. Did she believe she would go to heaven? She never went to church or read a Bible. I became so burdened I thought I would burst. Even her children, my father and aunts, were concerned about her salvation, but no one seemed willing to approach her about it. Although, she was a very dear, sweet lady, my grandmother was stubborn with a temper. I prayed that God would help me find an appropriate way to approach the subject with her.   

One afternoon it was just the two of us. She sat in her rocker beside her bed and was in a very talkative mood. It seemed like the right time.  I said, “Grandma, can I ask you a very important question?”

She looked at me with a half grin, knowing I was up to something. “Yeah,” she nodded.

“Were you ever saved?” I asked, my heart hammering with fear she might explode.

She knew exactly what I was talking about. She nodded and said, “Yeah, a long time ago when I was a little girl. I still am saved.” She went on to explain that they used to attend a little white church when she was very young. I was so grateful as that conversation stayed with me, a sweet comfort when we had to lay her to rest two weeks later.

Before she left us, she allowed me to pray for her, the family gathered and joined hands with Grandma. I held her hand as she took her last breath and released it so easily. I watched her closely, waiting for her to take another breath, but she never did. I had imagined all sorts of struggles of her gasping for air, fighting to breathe, groping for life, and there was none of that. She died more peacefully than I could have ever imagined. It was another answer to many of our prayers. Afterward, her skin instantly turned a golden glow. The wrinkles in her tired face disappeared into a lovely, peaceful expression. (Photo to right is of Grandma's 80th birthday party. It was a surprise!)

I wept with relief for her and sorrow. When my four-year-old daughter heard the news, she rushed into the room with one of the cousins following on her heels. She wanted to lay her head on Grandma's heart. We didn't know how she might react, but I was also concerned that she might need some sort of closure. I explained that Grandma’s heart had gone to Heaven and that there was no heartbeat. Still, Celina had to listen and see for herself and the simple act satisfied her.

All through the next few days Celina handled everything well. She never cried, but she asked a series of questions. We tried to answer them as best as we could. She even went home and studied a picture of her and Grandma together. 

On the day of Grandma’s funeral, Celina was okay throughout the service until they put the closed coffin into the hearse. She wanted to know where they were taking Grandma. We explained about the burial.  As I put her in her car seat, she clutched her stomach and cried, “Oh, my Grandma!  My Grandma!”  It was the first time she had cried and it seemed as if she finally understood that she wouldn’t see Grandma again. My heart broke as I tried to comfort her and contain my own grief, and then, a miracle happened.  

Suddenly, the wind whirled and something that looked like white flower petals flew around in circles and from every direction. Both of us stopped to watch it. My first thought was of dogwood petals, but I noticed that it disappeared as it hit the dark pavement, and then I realized it was snow. Grandma loved snow! It was 48° F outside, much too warm for snow, and the sun was shining in and out of the clouds floating by. The conditions weren’t right for snow, but it distracted my daughter. 

 It was another sign from Heaven above that Grandma was happy and well. My little girl stopped crying, her broken heart momentarily forgotten by a Heavenly miracle. I couldn’t help smiling. I knew Heaven was celebrating a new Valentine gift.

I've dedicated Our Watkins Family page to Grandma. Turn up your speakers!