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Grandmother's March


Raye McDonald

I saw her sitting slumped in her wheelchair in her usual place beside the old upright piano that stood next to the picture window. My eyes went to the top of the instrument where I saw the same old vase with the faded artificial flowers. They had sat there on top of the piano for the last five years that grandmother had been a resident of the nursing home. When she saw me approaching, a slight smile came upon her thin lips.

"Hi honey," she said in a husky voice.

"Hi Gram! Do you have a cold? Your voice sounds funny," I said.

"Oh, don't worry. I think it is just a slight cold. I'll probably perk up in a few days," she said.

I knelt down before her so that I could receive my usual greeting from her twisted fingers. They shook as they made their way down to my waiting face. The veins in her hands were the dark blue color of an approaching rainstorm. She stroked my cheeks.

"Oh, Pam, you look so much like your mother. I just miss her so very much. I don't understand why she is gone and I am still here." 

She expressed these same words to me each time that I visited her.

"I know that you miss mother. So do I. It is hard to believe that she has been gone for almost ten years." As I spoke, I could see the tears welling up in my grandmother's eyes.

She cleared her voice and said softly, "Pam, I had the most wonderful dream last night. I want to tell you about it. There were all of these people who were singing and marching together up toward a mountain. Someone in the crowd grabbed my arm and I looked and saw that it was your mother. She said, 'Mom, come with us. We are going up to the hill of Zion where God is waiting.' 

She continued to talk. "There is an old hymn that I love so much in my little red hymnal. It says something about marching up to Zion, but I can't remember all of the words."

As she tried to recall the hymn, her face became radiant and for a moment I felt that grandmother might jump up from her wheelchair.

A few days later, my grandmother died. Several weeks later, while going through her possessions, I found the little hymn book and looked up the song that had meant so much to her. And then I knew, with assurance, that my grandmother had been given this dream to prepare her for her heavenly journey.

Marching to Zion 

Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry,
we're marching through Emmanuel's ground to
fairer worlds on high.
We're marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion,
We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful
city of God.

note - parts of this story are true. 
MARCHING TO ZION - words by Issac Watts - 1707
music by Robert Lowery - 1867

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