Archive | Death & Dying RSS feed for this section

Grandma Faced Reality

12 Mar


By: Tom Heck

Grandma Faced Reality

                My grandmother, Ottilie Heck, was born in 1902 on her parents’ farm in Pepin County Wisconsin.  Her parents, Wilhelm and Margaretha Roetter, were actually both born in Germany and attended church there.  They met and got married in Pepin County and farmed there for many years.  They had several children which they faithfully took to church and school just a half mile down the road from their home.  So following their religious traditions, shortly after my grandmother was born, they took her to the little country church and had her baptized.  The pastor assuring them that she was now a Christian and going to Heaven.

Grandma, along with her brothers and sisters worked very hard on their parents’ farm.  But there was also time for fun and play.  One of the things they enjoyed doing was going fishing in the little creek that ran through their farm.  Grandma said they would catch beautiful native trout out of it that were the best tasting fish that she had ever eaten.

The children all attended country school when they weren’t needed on the farm.  And the family always attended church whenever possible.   Grandma was eventually confirmed in that church, and then several years later got married to my grandfather, Paul Heck, in that same church.

They bought a small farm a mile up the valley from that church, and thus attended that church for many years until it eventually closed its doors and merged with a larger one in town.  They worked very hard on that new farm to make it go.  Grandma shared with me, years later, how she would take the team of horses out to the field with a one bottom walking plow, and plow all afternoon with them while Grandpa was busy doing other work.  My grandparents didn’t lack ambition or strength when it came to work.

They were blessed with four sons, all of whom they took to church and had baptized as infants, the pastor assuring them that they were also now Christians.  After farming there for many years and really building the farm up, they turned it over to their youngest son, Leroy, and moved into town.

But even then they didn’t retire, they slowed up a bit, but they certainly didn’t retire.  Grandpa in the spring, summer and fall would always be going out to his sons’ farms to help them.  In the wintertime he would work in his basement making beautiful things out of wood for his fourteen grandchildren.  Grandma kept house of course, but she also made quilts, afghans and other things for her fourteen grandchildren.  We grandchildren were blessed with many wonderful gifts from them over the years at Christmastime.

Another thing that I must say about my grandparents is that their door was always open.  I could stop in and talk to them anytime, or in the evening after chores were all done, stop in and play a game of cards.  I was very blessed in that I got to know them very well.

But one thing really upset my grandmother: that was when I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me, and to be my total Lord and Saviour. There was a total change in my life and everyone that knew me could see it.  Grandma was glad over the wonderful change in my life, but upset that it went against her religion.  Every time I would see her, she would start in on me over what her church taught, or over what this or that pastor had said years ago. It didn’t matter if it was Christmastime or a birthday party, or whatever, she would lay into me with all the relatives present.  I loved and respected her greatly, all I could do was tell her what Jesus had done in my life and what the Bible said to all the things she brought up – especially infant water baptism and salvation.

Grandma was getting well up in years and starting to battle cancer.  On a number of occasions, unknown to me at the time, her pastor stopped to see her.  She would always bring up her sinful past and tell him that she didn’t think she was going to make it to heaven.  He would always try to reassure her that she had been saved in infant water baptism, and that her sins were all washed away.

The time came when Grandma was real close to death.  The doctors told her that she had only a few days left to live, unless she had surgery.  With surgery they figured she could spend a week in the hospital and then go home for about five weeks and die there.  Grandma was in a lot of pain and suffering, but she chose the latter because she was terrified of dying.  Although she didn’t let anyone know it except her pastor.

A couple days later after her surgery, it was Sunday.  I did the normal farm chores and headed out to church.  But something strange happened on the way to church: the closer I got to church, the more impressed I felt not to go to church, but rather go and see my grandmother in the hospital.

I got there and had to wait outside her room for over a half hour as the nurses changed a bunch of her bandages.  I could hear her just groaning in pain as they did it.  I thought, “Boy, did I ever miss it in coming here instead of going to church.”  But I was wrong!

Once the nurses got done, they told me I could go in and see her.  As soon as I stepped into her room her face lit up and she said, “Tom, I’ve been chewing you apart for five years, but you got something that none of the other Hecks have and I want it!”  I must admit I was surprised, even though I had been praying for her.  And there on that Sunday morning I opened my Bible up and led my precious grandmother to the Lord.  Her face lit up with great joy and the tears just ran down her face.  It was the first time I had ever seen her cry in my life.

When I left her room that day, she made me promise her that I would tell the rest of the family what happened to her that day.  I told her that she could tell them, but she insisted that I do it because she knew her time was very short.  And she was right.  Three days later, this woman who had been so terrified of dying, died in perfect peace and entered the gates of Heaven.

I’m so grateful that Grandma faced reality; she realized her infant water baptism, church attendance and all her good works wouldn’t get her into Heaven.  She also realized what her pastors had told her was wrong.  On that day, when she repented of her sins and accepted Jesus as her Saviour and Lord, she passed from death to life, from Hell to Heaven.  The Bible calls it being, “Born again.”  And for good reason, it’s a totally new life.  The Bible says it well in 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

I’m so glad that I also faced reality years ago.  For I, too, was a sinner on the road to Hell, but I cried out with all my heart and Jesus saved me.  And I know He’s waiting to do the same for you.  I can’t urge you strongly enough to come to Christ today; it doesn’t matter how good or how bad a life you’ve lived, only Jesus can save you.  And He’s waiting for you to come.