I saw that "Jaws" was on TV today. That movie always hits a chord with me. The summer of 1975 I was only 8. "Jaws" was rated R, but left to the somewhat questionable discretion of my Uncle Tom (this was the man who called us in to dinner by shooting us with a bb gun out the back door of the house) "Jaws" became a perfectly OK movie for me, my cousin Mitch (8), his son Brent (also 8) and his daughter Brenda (about 6). Now this was in Montana so sharks are about as real to them as a Jackalope, but I lived in FL and I knew that sharks were REAL. So the natural conclusion would be that after the movie I would be terrified of the beach...scared of the sharks there. WRONG! I had nightmares about being inside that shark cage without any air and dying. OK...a little weird, but that's what scared me. Something that wasn't even a part of the movie. I mean no one got trapped in that thing without air but that was my fear.
Skip ahead to the next summer. Every summer I spent some time at my grandparents' home in Port Charlotte. I was very lucky...I had both grandparents on my mom's side and also both Great-grandmothers. I had a VERY close relationship with Gram E (read grammy) my mom's mom's mom. She lived to be 103 and a half (she told me that under 10 and over 100 you get to count your halves so I always make sure to add that half...LOL!) and she was a wonderful, amazing, funny, caring woman of God and, eventhough neither of my grandparents were beilevers, Gram E always took me to church with her when I was visiting. So one day, on the way home from church, I told her about my dream and how scared I was about dying. I remember it as if it were yesterday. She never skipped a beat.
This is what she she said:
"You like coming to visit us in the summer, don't you"?
"You stay for a couple of weeks or a month and then at the end of summer you go home, right?"
"When your mom comes to get you, are you afraid to leave"?
"Of course not. You're going home. Eventhough you miss us and we miss you, you are not scared when it's time to go home. Do you know why"?
"Because I live there".
"Yes. This is not your home. This is a vacation. It's fun, but it's not your home. It's the same thing when you die. If you are God's child then you don't live here. You're just visiting this life. Your real home is with the Lord. When He comes to get you it's not scary...maybe a little sad, but not scary. He's just taking you home like your mom takes you home after your time with us here every summer".
WOW! What a succinct and visual word picture for a 9 year old that was scared to die in a shark cage. I'd like to say that I never had that nightmare again. I did, but not for years and even then it was actually a really good nightmare because it always reminded me of what she had told me. Now whenever I hear that music...dum dum, dum dum, dumdumdumdumdumdum I can't help but think of her and how she helped ease my fears and how, later, when I accepted the Lord as my Savior, she was the first person that I wanted to tell. When I think about it now I just want to tell her that I can't wait to see her again...but I'll wait until the end of summer.