Do you remember your first heaven on earth story? I remember mine. I was a young girl living in Jackson, Mississippi, and my Uncle Billy was in the hospital with Leukemia. My assignment was to hang out with him, make him laugh, and feed him all the strawberry ice cream he wanted.
You see, his case was terminal, and he was given only days to live. No one had told him, because he was a man with learning disabilities, including a compromised brain, due to a breach birth injury. The so-called “folks that be” didn’t think he could handle the truth. This was really no surprise to me.
As a child, people misunderstood him and laughed at him, while calling him ‘special’ and ‘simple’. And he was both – not because of the ugly labels people placed on his life, but because of his connection to the Lord. I have often witnessed how people with developmental challenges can have this remarkable ability to hang so closely with God. They don’t complicate things. They seem to listen, trust, and obey accordingly. Uncle Billy was no exception. He walked and lived in that freedom, which is certainly more than many of us can say.
So, on a hot July day, as I sat on his hospital bed spoon-feeding him Seale-Lily, he said “Rob, guess who came to see me today?” Who? “The Angels… And Mama, And Uncle Eric, And Uncle George.” (All of whom were relatives that had recently passed.) “Really?” I asked. “Yup.” They said “Jesus Is coming to git me soon. Yup he is.” “Really? How do you feel about that? Are you scared?” I asked. “Nope. I feel just fine.”
Later I told my own mama and daddy that I thought Uncle Billy was going to die soon. “How do you know that?” “He told me,” I said.
Three days later, Billy Vance died. He left this world at age 53, carrying the pure heart of a child with him. I was 8. My life was just getting started. And already I had experienced my first encounter with someone who described with perfect simplicity how heaven on earth was actually real.
@Robbie Watson 2022
Do you have a heaven on earth story?
His childhood photo) Mamaw, Uncle Billy, My Mama, and the famous Model T.- Location-Collinsville