On March 13th, 1996 at 1:13AM, Beverly Jordan passed from this world through the veil. This is to share and honor her because I have no children of my own to pass these stories down to and someone like her should never be forgotten.
Most people would start a story from the beginning, but I think her ending is by far one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever had the right to witness.
I had been up for a very long time sitting with the Martell’s at the hospital in Grand Haven (could have been Muskegon), Michigan. Gram’s beautiful brown eyes had been glazed with a sheath of white that took her vision from this world and shifted it to the next. Her mouth gaped open as if in astonishment but there were no surprises left. A machine honked and whispered breath to her reminding us all that time was an outlet away.
The newspaper my Grandpa Pat had brought in rested on the arm of the single chair that sat in the corner. I kept watch while the others went to make phone calls, rested, or grabbed some food. I picked up the paper which I read aloud. I listened to the whirs clicking moments away. I said softly after I finished a front page story that seems, even now, to be irrelevant, “Gram, you know I love you so very much. You told me the story of your heart surgery. Do you remember that?” I adjusted my seat. “You told me how you hovered above your body and you talked to God.”
“Gram, you told me that you said to him, “God, if it’s my time to go, that’s fine. I’m ready. But if you have things for me to do, let me get back to it already. I can’t do anything for my family if I’m not here any more. I’ll obey.” Do you remember telling me that story?” I stood up and laid the paper down. I walked over to her bedside and pulled her cold paper hand into my own.
“When I needed you a few months after that, you were there for me. You took me in and sheltered me. You treated me not as if I’d made a mistake but that I’d recover. You wouldn’t allow me to wallow. You gave me my life back. I got to see you in a way I never thought I would be able to because you gave yourself to me as my friend and mentor. I love you so much. But, Gram, if it is your time, it’s okay. We’ll take care of each other as we always do in our own way. Please don’t think that you have to stay if it’s time. It’s okay to let go and rest now.”
My Uncle Jake, never one for sentiment but always down for a cold beer and some good times, slipped into the room as if he’d been eavesdropping. “Ma. She’s right. You’ve done everything you could do. It’s okay. You can go if it’s your time.”
My cousin Neil, Jake’s second son, walked in just then. “Grandma, it’s okay. I won’t forget what you told me. Nobody will. You can go if you need to. You’ll be missed, but we all understand.”
We stood there silently together listening to the voice of the machines holding her spirit in her physical being. The nurse walked in to make adjustments. Jake grabbed her arm lightly and told her that he’d sign the papers to let her go. The nurse finished what she’d came in to do. Jake left with her. Neil started to cry but made no effort to hide nor wipe his tears. We joined together in our private grief not sharing what we both felt.
Everyone gathered together as the doctor came in and with very little ceremony, pulled the plug. The waiting began.
At about 9PM that night, the family dispersed with me drawing the straw to stay the night. With list of phone numbers tucked in my pocket, instructions to call if anything happened, a huge cup of coffee and a book, I sat in the chair while reading aloud. Her heart rate seemed to increase when I read as did her breathing so I continued. After several hours of another lost name, I needed to use the restroom and get a drink. I told her, kissed her cheek and left the room.
As I was returning, the nurse who had been so kind to my family told me that it wouldn’t be long, I should hurry.
As I entered the room alone, I witnessed a gray misty form fill the other side of the room. Being around my Gram, ghost stories were like talking about the weather, they were just accepted as fact. I saw this one. It was a shapeless mass about the size of a very large, although not tall, human. I could make out a head and arms, but nothing distinguishing. It knelt down and came up through my Gram’s body bearing a light that glowed like a shooting star. A sense of profound peace of mind coupled with a deep unending love filled my heart. I knew, at that moment, God existed. I also knew that she’d gone to the next realm. I kissed her forehead, holding my lips there, grasping her lifeless hand while tears fell warm against her cooling skin.
I whispered that I love her then after one more kiss on her forehead, I released my hold on her physical being to make the necessary calls. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
Below is a poem I wrote to honor this woman that brought me to a place of safety when I ran from deadly danger. She granted me safe haven from a toxic destructive marriage. She showed me how to rebuild into a bionic mess and how to start all over again no matter what. Although I don’t cry over her every day any more and I rarely go a day without thinking of her, she is always with me because if she weren’t, I couldn’t share this with you.
There are no ballads written of the life she led.
There are no written records of the many things she said.
There are no monuments standing in Michigan’s icy cold.
There are no places left of hers but the marble growing old.
There are no public holidays where the banks close to honor her.
There are no dates filled with activities in her empty calendar; just blurs.
Still in my heart she sings to me of the lifetime that she led
Of the family lore she told to me at the night time tucked in bed
Her picture remains cherished on my dresser in the honorary place
While I dress into the nightgown she left to me while gazing on her face.
Each March 13th I cherish her, each moment with which I was blessed
All these years seems like eternity since I laid her ashes to rest.
I have failed to keep my promise, to take care of my kin and blood
Rejection by their fallacies have damned the emotional flood
With the strength of her character rising deep from my roots
She knows that our family tree bore much rotten fruit
The witness I bear to you is me giving to remember
So that ancestral love will never die, as she has, to an ember.