King James Version (KJV)
10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
I never really considered the possibility that there could be angels watching over and/or living among us until my stepmother, Jeanne, passed away a couple of years ago. After she passed away, I began to wonder if it was possible for her to look down from her place in Heaven and see what was going on down here. Could she see me and everything I was doing? Could she send us signs that she was watching over my Dad, my sister and I? I can’t say that I received any really obvious signs that she could, other than my son, Zachary, telling me more than once that Nana was ok. They had a very special bond even though Zachary was only 6 years old when she died on February 17, 2010.
Three weeks before Jeanne suffered the heart attack that would lead to her death a few months later, my second son, William, was born. I had somewhat of a difficult time picking out a name for William, and Seth and I had discussed it many times. I don’t remember exactly when it hit me, but I began to have a feeling that we should name him William after my Granddaddy Bill, Martin William Bates. I remember standing in Target wih Seth one day in the middle of the card section when he looked at me and said, “If you want to name him William, then I am fine with that. We should name him William.” And so we did. Interestingly enough, William was born on Granddaddy Bill’s wife Betty’s birthday, September 25, 2009. These seeming coincidences will become more relevant in my next post, but it is worth mentioning here because I don’t actually believe these are coincidences at all.
I mentioned in an earlier post that my Granddaddy Bill recently passed away on February 5, 2012. Three weeks before he died, he fell at his home and began a steady decline. During that time, I felt compelled to visit him as much as possible, especially when he left the rehab facility and went home to hospice care. I watched his formerly able body undergo a transformation before my eyes, but as I continued to talk to him despite knowing he might not understand me and listen to him sing until his final couple of days on this Earth, I began to feel a peace about his passing. I had just finished the book “Heaven is for Real,” and I truly believed that he was headed to a glorious place where he would be freed from his very incapable Earthly body, which had been wracked by years of smoking, emphysema, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and hearing loss. I knew he would be young again in Heaven and would be able to breathe, think, see and hear better than ever.
As my grandfather began the dying process, he began seeing people in white robes and speaking to people who were not in the room. He told my mother as she was reading the section about people in robes in Heaven in the book “Heaven is for Real,” that she looked beautiful in her white robe (she was not actually wearing a robe). He was not able to fully explain what he was seeing due to the Alzheimer’s, but we believe angels had begun to visit him in the rehab facility to prepare him for his journey home.
I last visited him the morning of February 5, several hours before he died. Instead of being restless as he had been for several days before, he was still. His youngest son Bobby arrived from Alabama to say goodbye, and he spoke his last coherent word when my mother and Betty told him that Bobby was there. He said, “OK,” like everything was now in place. Before I left that afternoon, I watched him looking out the window in his bedroom at the sunshine outside. A peace came over me and I told him that it was ok to go, saying what I had a feeling would be my final goodbye. Several hours later as I was watching Madonna sing “Like a Prayer” during the Superbowl halftime show, my mom called to tell me that he had passed away.
As I said earlier, Zachary seemed to know somehow that his Nana was ok following her death, and again, he seemed convinced that Granddaddy Bill was ok, too. He stood over the open casket at the wake talking to Granddaddy Bill, seemingly not even the slightest bit afraid of death. An 8-year-old. Standing over a casket by himself. I watched as Betty’s sister, Linda, came over to the join Zachary and I overheard pieces of their conversation. He told Linda that Granddaddy Bill was in Heaven, playing and having fun. I thought, “Is this for real?” How can he be so absolutely confident? It was like Zachary had knowledge of life after death that I didn’t know and certainly hadn’t sat him down and taught him. Linda later told me that she believed Zachary and that she also believed that he had some sort of Heavenly connection that neither one of us could really explain other than to say that Zachary had to be an angel on Earth. It’s funny, because I have always thought that he has one of the sweetest, oldest souls you will ever meet, and I began to wonder if in fact he did have some insight into Heaven that other people, like me, did not.
And then I began to wonder that if Zachary somehow had this special ability to understand life after death, could William have it too? Why Zachary? Could he possibly be an angel on Earth? I know I am somewhat biased, but I really believe that he is. And as the events of the following week unfolded, I also began to believe that William does have a special ability as well. I thought, “How blessed am I to have two children with such insight?!” I began sharing the events of the following week with my mom and close friends, who I think at first thought I might be going off the deep end. And by the end of the week, I’m pretty sure one of my very good friends thought that I was certifiable, straight jacket and all. But, I will leave it for you to judge as I delve into those events in my next post(s).