Beyond the Sunset

Aunt Edith

Aunt Edith passed away last Tuesday evening. She’s the talented gospel pianist aunt I wrote about in this blog last summer (https://whisperingwindsblog.com/2012/07/30/lets-celebrate/). I woke up several times Tuesday night. My mind was imagining what her welcome in heaven was like. Here’s what came to mind.

Wedding of Helmer and Edith Kenseth (1936)
Edith’s brother, Orvin, and Helmer’s sister, Elsie, were attendants.

Edith’s husband, Helmer, was pretty excited. He had heard from God that Edith would be arriving that evening. Helmer and their son, Gary, had come to my mom and dad’s home for dinner. My sister, Nancy, was also there. Her husband, Clark, had not come because he had volunteered to go on a special assignment to help people on the East Coast deal with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Helmer and Gary, my mom and dad, and Nancy had just finished dinner and were about ready to start on dessert when Edith walked in. Helmer just stared at her with tears in his eyes. He was so happy to see her he couldn’t speak. Gary, who had died of cancer in his 50’s, jumped up and ran to her and gave her a hug.

Nancy got up to set an extra place at the table, and then dished up dessert for everyone. It was homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. She also started a pot of coffee.

My mom asked Edith, “How are you feeling? Isn’t it wonderful to be rid of all your aches and pains!”

Edith just beamed. “I feel absolutely like a new woman! It’s so amazing to see all of you again. I can hardly wait to explore heaven and see the rest of my family and friends, and to make new friends.”

Helmer promised her, “We’ll start that adventure tomorrow morning. Tonight, we’ll just relax together, the six of us. You’ve been through the biggest change of your life. You need to take it easy for a few hours.”

My mom poured coffee for everyone as they started to eat the apple crisp. Edith commented, “Oh my, this tastes even better than when you made it for us in your condo on earth, Nancy.”

“Recipes are the only thing we can bring with us from earth to heaven, and this particular recipe is one of my favorites. It’s even better here because of the amazing apple trees in heaven. I picked the apples this morning. The ice cream is made from very contented cows, too. And no pesticides need to be used in heaven, and no preservatives either. Everything tastes better here.”

My dad changed the subject and asked Edith, “I understand our farm isn’t a farm any more – that the fields have been divided into lots and that houses have been built on most of them. I also heard that the house has been turned into a bed and breakfast or a spiritual retreat center. What’s really happening there?”

“Well, you’ve heard right. There aren’t fields on your farm any more. Your fields of corn and alfalfa have been replaced with houses. Across the road is still farmland, though. The farmhouse has more than doubled in size, thanks to Danny’s and Kevin’s carpentry skills. Marian and Mim have been using the house as a B&B-style retreat center. Hundreds of people have found their way to the farm to find a place to pray and spend quiet time with God. Something you’d like, Carl, is that they have hymn sings there a few times a year. I went to their Christmas Carol Sing last December. Oh my, we sang for at least two hours. It was so much fun! During a break from our singing to eat Marian’s homemade Christmas cookies, I played the piano. What fun that was!”

Helmer couldn’t wait any longer to ask. “How’s Matt doing with his NASCAR racing this year?”

“Well, you know I can’t stand to watch it on TV. I get too nervous that he might crash. Colleen watched him win his last race, and I guess he’s qualified for the big final race.”

Helmer grinned from ear to ear with that news. “Maybe I’ll look down on that race. Normally, we don’t watch what’s happening on earth because it’s too depressing. But you know how much I love to watch Matt race.”

Gary had been listening intently to the whole conversation. Now he had a really serious question. As a former Marine, he wondered how the country was doing. “What’s happening with the presidential election this year?”

“Oh, that’s terrible,” was Edith’s response. “People and corporations are spending millions of dollars on TV ads to distort the truth about each candidate. Just think about how much good could be done if that money were invested in helping people instead of trying to influence people to vote one way or another. At the end, I just tuned it all out. I’m oh so glad I’m here instead.” She turned her head to look out the window, to catch another glimpse of what heaven is like.

After a moment of silence, Edith asked, “By the way, are there any pianos in heaven? I want to play ‘Beyond the Sunset.’ I’ll sing it, too. I think my voice has come back! Let’s see.”

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion,
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting,
Beyond the sunset, forevermore!

Aunt Edith playing her new piano in heaven.

4 thoughts on “Beyond the Sunset

  1. What a lovely story. Wondering about heaven and how we will be there is something I often contemplate – and this is one of the best stories I’ve ever heard! 🙂

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