Mrs. Coltrane Transitions to Heaven

Carole’s mom died this week (on 11/16). The following is from my comments at the funeral service:

We just did not want her to go, even though the Bible says “to die is gain.”

Indeed, it was gain for Mrs. Coltrane. During those final days as we stood beside her bed, I prayed that God would make her better. In the moments after she died, it occurred to me that God did exactly that. He made her better. In Heaven he set her free from a body that did not work so well anymore.

It was also gain for those in Heaven. When she died, we said she’s gone. In Heaven, her husband (R.V.), mother and father (Bertie and Robert), four sisters (Ruth, Lillian, Mary, and Treva) said, “Here she comes!”

But for us, her passing was not gain, but loss. Steve, Carole, and Dianne lost their mother. Her 13 surviving grandchildren (Sandra, Lori, Kim, Chris, Jennifer, Kimberley, Eric, Scott, Todd, Jonathan, Susanna, Amanda, and Melinda) lost their grandmother. (Grandson, Mickey, was already on the other side to welcome her.) And her 21 great-grandchildren (Cody, Chase, Kenzi, Brandon, Jacob, Gavin, Ally, Maddie, Abby, Kaylin, David, Jonathan, Ridge, Wesley, Joseph, Thomas, Bennett, Taylor, Casey, Emily and Katelyn) lost their great-grandmother.

But wait! The Bible says we do not suffer loss as those who have no hope. From our counseling we understand that our experience of loss is not the same for those of us who have 1) faith and 2) the confidence of no unfinished business.

Our faith is in Christ as our only hope for going to Heaven. God does not have a generic plan for our salvation. The Bible says that “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

I remember the time I first talked to Mrs. Coltrane about her faith. I knew she was a member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and was their pianist for over 30 years, but I was still interested to know about her faith. I found that we can sometimes learn what a person believes by asking about their church.

So one afternoon, I asked: “Does your church believe the Bible is the Word of God?”

She answered, “Of course they do!”

“Do they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for us so that we could go to Heaven?” I asked.

“Of course they do!” she answered looking straight in my face.

It was as if she was saying, “Of course we do, don’t you?”

So, we who have faith do not grieve our loss as those who have no hope of Heaven. Mrs. Coltrane gave every evidence of her faith in Christ and love for him.

But we also do not grieve as others because we do not have unfinished business.

Mrs. Coltrane did not know much about unfinished business. Anyone who knew her knows that she attended to the business of her personal life, her home, and her church. No duty was left undone, no meals were missed, and no dishes were left in the sink.

That was the legacy she left her children. When The Salvation Army needed someone to take care of an important responsibility for their Give a Kid a Coat and Angel Tree Christmas programs, Carole recommended Steve because she knew he would get it done. And he did. Major Egan, who is here today, will tell you that.

When Dianne’s company wanted to expand their business to the west coast, they sent her. She has been enormously successful and is now a vice president with the company.

I know close and personal about Carole’s work ethic. She leaves no unfinished business in her care for herself, her home, her church, and her work.

Also, the family does not grieve as others because they have no unfinished business in their care for their mother. During her several years at the senior care home, a family member was with her almost every day to attend to her needs. They fussed over her hair, her nails, her clothing, or any other need she had. During most of those years, Steve and Nita were on-call almost around the clock. So also were Dianne and Frank. In these past two years, since moving back to North Carolina, Carole has been able to share in much of that responsibility, going almost every day to the care home to care for the needs of her mom. Also, in the past year or so, granddaughter, Kim, has regularly cut and fixed her hair.  

I welcome the opportunity to make these comments because I am passionate to say to family and friends that, although we will miss Mrs. Coltrane in this life, we do not grieve as others who do not have our faith, but rather take comfort in knowing that, because we have trusted Jesus Christ and his death on the cross as our only hope for going to Heaven, we will see her again.  

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10K17