I never knew Nana Stickler as the hale and hearty farmer’s wife and mother of eight children she had been. When I was born in 1941 my grandmother had been greatly impacted by the ravages of diabetes. Nana, as her grandchildren called her, was fighting a losing battle with the disease. Her circulation was effected and by the time she was in her middle sixties she was confined to her bed. This was not the woman who would walk around the City of Bethlehem Pennsylvania with her husband and as he gave the past Sunday’s Sunday School lesson to shut ins and elderly who could not get out to church, would clean their houses, launder clothing, prepare a light meal or do whatever she could to make their daily path easier.
I remember the day a family meeting was held after church at Nana and Pop Pop’s humble home to determine how they were to be cared for as my grandfather could no longer care for Nana in her current condition. She was totally confined to her bed and could barely feed herself. Her physical condition deteriorated to the point that her doctor could stick her legs with a needle and she would feel nothing and the stick sites would no longer even bleed. My aunts and uncles, through discussion, determined that my Aunt Pauline and Uncle Warren would open their home to the couple and provide care for them. The decision once made was acted on and Nana was literally tied to her bed, the bed stood on end, and she was carried down the steep narrow steps of their home. The men of the family picked her up at the bottom of the stairs, carried her out the front door, up the street to an alley and down the several doors to the Zimmermans back yard, into her new home and up to her new bed room. There was no argument or delay in the family’s actions.
Nana and Pop Pop settled in their new life with their daughter and her family. Some time later as Aunt Pauline was preparing breakfast for Nana she heard her singing at the top of her voice and hurried to her room. Nana had become so weak she could no longer even feed herself, but Aunt Pauline found her sitting up in bed with a big smile on her face. Her face was uplifted toward the ceiling, as were both her arms. She was singing an old hymn
My Jesus I love thee, I know thou are art mine- For thee all the follies of sin I resign; My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou; If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now. Aunt Pauline could not get her to lay back down or stop singing. I love Thee because Thou hast first love-st me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree; I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow; If ever I loved Thee my Jesus, ‘tis now. Aunt Pauling could not lower Nana’s arms or make her lie back on her pillow. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lend-est me breath; And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
Nana kept sitting up hands raised to the ceiling along with her face – a beautiful smile on her face fixated on what she was seeing. It was as if Aunt Pauline wasn’t even there…
In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus,’tis now.
Nana finished the hymn, lowered her arms and laid back on her pillow, and went to be with the one who died for her, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is understandable why that hymn has a special place in the hearts of those of us who knew Nana and loved her. What a way to leave this life full of the knowledge that her Savior was awaiting her entry into Glory. Many leave this life having no hope for what comes after they leave this world. My prayer for any and all that hear or read this account is that you would seek the Lord Jesus and seek the forgiveness He so freely offers to everyone. Hell is real and eternity never ends. We are never ensured we will have a tomorrow. Today is the time to settle your account with Almighty God.
By Ernie Stickler, July 27, 2020