This is my story

Connie and I married in 1963, in her final year of Nursing School, prior to her earning her RN degree. In 1964, God blessed us with a daughter, Candy. When Vann came along three years later, truly, our joy was complete.
Then came Thursday, late May, 1978- school was out. Connie was working, so I offered to take the kids to Woodward, to celebrate the beginning of summer. Vann was complaining of a headache, so he opted to stay home.
Vann spent the next day in bed. That next morning, Saturday, on her way to work, Connie asked me to bring Vann into the hospital. We saw Dr. L. A. Myers; he advised that while he couldn’t explain the exact nature of the problem, he did know that Vann was dehydrated, and in a great deal of pain. His advice was to have him checked into the hospital, where they could start some fluids and pain medicine, via IV.
Rank hath its privilege: The hospital put Vann in a semi private room, on Connie’s floor, with no one in the other bed. Finally, I was able to relax: After all, Vann was now in Newman Memorial, the place where Connie had been witness (more than once) to nothing short of medical miracles.
I went to town, and bought Vann some small toys, to take his mind off his pain. Once I got back to the room, I reminded him that he and I were headed to Luchenbach, Texas, on our summer motorcycle trip, and I wasn’t traveling with a sick kid, so he needed to get well. His answer: “I’m doing the best I can.” These would be the final words he ever said to me.
Once Connie finished her shift, she stayed with Vann; I spent the night in the room, trying to sleep on top of the vacant bed. I awoke to hear someone say: “Connie, I can’t find a heartbeat.” In a panic, I looked at Vann’s bed, but could see only a cloud of white- every nurse on the floor seemed to be working on my kid. I wanted to run away, at the same time, I wanted to stay and help- but there was nothing I could do. I was a basket case, until Zeb Wright called me and told me to get myself together, because Connie was going to need me, and I was no help to her in my present state. So I sucked it up- I had no choice. I called Connie’s Mom, to explain the situation, and talked to Candy- she later said that was the only time she’d ever heard me cry.
Once in Oklahoma City, Connie and I found ourselves at the OU Children’s Medical Center, where we were counseled by one Dr. Kent Braden, reportedly the chief neurologist in the state.
Dr. Braden said that Vann had a virus, the same sort of virus which could cause a sore throat or a runny nose, but this extremely fast virus had attacked Vann’s brain stem, and our son was brain dead. Vann was in ICU, on life support, because as his body was very strong, his brain was not sending the signal for the heart to beat.
In less than a day, Connie and I were surrounded by friends and family. We certainly appreciated all the love and support shown us, but time goes on, and these folks had to get back to their lives. And Connie and I would have to find a way to work our way through this tragedy. We rented a room in a motel across the street from the hospital, and Connie would spend every minute possible in Vann’s room in ICU. She was looking for a medical miracle, but none would be coming our way.
After five days, Connie got up early, kissed me, and headed for ICU. After she left, I went back to sleep, and had a very vivid dream. In this dream, I was eating breakfast at our home in Shattuck, and Vann came in, rubbed his eyes, and said: “Dad, how am I doing?” I answered: “Buddy, you’re not going to make it.” Well, he cried, I cried, we hugged each other, and he asked: “What are we going to do?” I said: “We need to take a picture.”
Instantly, as it happens with dreams, Vann and I were in Paul Covey’s photographic studio in Laverne. Mr. Covey stood Vann on a pedestal, so he would be on the same eye level as me, and crawled under that shroud behind the camera they used to have. Vann and I were clowning around, so Mr. Covey corrected the both of us, and told us to hold still for the picture.
Paul Covey had always done excellent work, and as I was admiring the finished photo, I missed Vann. I saw him moving towards the door, again, on perfect eye level with me, but this time, without the pedestal, just floating along, with no apparent effort on his part.
My heart was breaking to see him leaving, so I said, “Buddy, don‘t go!” He simply said: “Dad, I’ve got to. But I’ll see you.”
That’s when I awoke; when she returned to the room Connie found me in the shower. She had this small, rather sad smile on her face, and I asked: “Is it over?” She just nodded, and I said: “I know- Vann told me.”
We took care of business with the hospital, and began the three hour drive back to Shattuck. This was a very quiet drive, and one scene kept playing itself over and over in my mind. This was something I’d learned from that Nazarene Church where, against my will, my Grandmother had taken me.
The scene was Jesus on the cross, as the thief hanging next to him said: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” According to Dr. Luke, Jesus’ response was: “Verily, I say unto you, this day you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Due to that vision, I knew that I knew that Vann was with Jesus in Paradise, and had been there since that Sunday morning when I heard the nurse say: “Connie, I can’t find a heartbeat.” I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to break Hell wide open- but I didn’t have any idea what to do about that.
Connie and I got back home, to find it filled with friends and relatives, and more food than I’d ever seen. One of our visitors that day was our Pastor, who asked me if he could help in any way. I put on my best professional smile, and said: “Really, I’m okay, Preacher. Thanks anyway.” Get the picture: I’m on my way to Hell, and I know it; here’s a man of God, offering help, and I’m too damned proud to receive it. After all, I was the head usher, and Vann had lit candles in the church. How could I tell this man I wasn’t saved- as if he didn’t already know?
We got through the funeral, Connie was back to work, and I was still just puttering around outside the house in a kind of daze. That’s when Jep Anderson drove into the yard. (I would never know how many times Andy had driven by the house, wanting to see me, but not wanting to intrude.) Andy drove up, shook my hand, and said: “I know how to make it stop hurting.” I answered: “ I’m ready for the times to get better.”
So we got into his El Camino, and he explained to me the plan of salvation. I accepted Jesus without hesitation, and Andy then asked me to make the childlike gesture of physically handing my life to God, for Him to take control. As I made that gesture, I had a vision: The life I handed up became a white sport coat, like the one I’d worn to my high school graduation. Two scarred hands now held the jacket by the shoulders, then shook it out. This coat, which had once been beautiful and flawless, was now scarred and stained, ripped and torn- totally beyond repair.
The jacket was in such bad shape that I couldn’t bear to look at it, so I turned my head away. God had given me a perfect life; totally without stain- I had ruined it, and no longer wanted it, as it appeared good for nothing except the trash heap. I said: “God, I cannot even bear to look at it- it’s now worthless, and I certainly don’t want it.” And God said: “I don’t know- why don’t you let Me have it for awhile, and see what I can do with it?”
And He fixed it! Not only as good as new, but better. Then He gave it back to me, and through His grace, I’m no longer ashamed of my life. Praise God forevermore!

Vann’s birthday was September 18; Grandmother’s was October 18. As her date of birth was 30 days after Vann’s, so was her date of death. Grandmother died at 91 years, and she was able to tell Connie goodbye before she left us.
One morning around 3 AM, the hospital called Connie to advise that Grandmother was asking for her. Connie got dressed, left me with Candy, and went to the hospital. When she got to her room, Grandmother was sitting up in bed, smiling, her white hair falling around her shoulders, looking quite angelic. She said: “Connie, it’s about time for me to go home, but I wanted to tell you goodbye first.”
Connie answered: “Oh, Grandmother, you know you’ll outlive us all.” They visited for awhile, Connie went out to the nurse’s station to get the chart, and when she got back to the room, Grandmother was gone. The body was still sitting up, the smile was still on her face, but her spirit had gone home.
Shortly thereafter, I had another dream: Before the airlines employed those steel cocoons to get you from the terminal to the aircraft, they would roll a sort of portable stairway onto the tarmac; you’d walk across the tarmac, and climb up into the aircraft. In my dream, Grandmother and Vann were going up one of those stairways, except this time, they were riding an escalator. Grandmother was holding Vann’s hand, and with their free hands, they were waving goodbye to me, both faces beaming with delight and anticipation. As I watched, I was reminded of the Bill Gaither song, The King is Coming. Consider these lyrics:
“Little children and the aged hand in hand stand all aglow, who were crippled, broken, ruined, clad in garments white as snow.”
Thank You, Jesus.
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About Me

Bill L Nicholson
United States
"Yet a son", I continue to live the abundant life, provided by my Grandmother, via the Holy Spirit.

Inspired by Max Lucado's book, God's Story, Your Story.

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