During my four years at THE PAVILION I have met a lot of characters and an equal lot of stories, but one of the strangest story I heard from my Dutch table partner Martinus. He was one of the people I knew who had kept his full dutch first name. He used to work on a sawmill along the Fraser river and in his spare time grew flowers, mostly dahlias, on his five acre property.
Shortly after their fiftieth wedding anniversary his wife was stricken with dementia and was in that stage where she walk away from home without knowing where she was going and Martinus was unable to look after her, he decided to take her to a rest home. By asking around he was referred to Menno place where she could be placed almost immediately, and if he so desired there was a place in the Independent Living building for him as well. He accepted the offer and after saying goodbye to especially his beloved flowers, he rented a unit at the Pavilion, close to his wife's place at the residential Care Home.
We were assigned to the same lunch table where we quickly became acquainted, and talked about every subject under the sun. One day Martinus asked me
“Do you know how old people in heaven are?” I answered that I didn't have the slightest idea.
“Thirty four,” he said, which shocked me and I must have been a little blunt asking him
“Where did you read that?”
“I didn't read about it, I talked with one who was there.” I knew Martinus was not demented, but this was more than I could take from him and told him to lay off.
“I had a feeling that you wouldn't believe me,” he said with a hint of hurt in his voice.
“You make it very hard for me to take you serious Martinus,” but he wasn't finished yet
“I got it from somebody who's been there,” he started again, but I had enough of it.
“Martinus” I said, stop fooling me, you're talking about heaven, where god abides. Did you talk to that young boy who died and came back to life again?”
“No, my grandson told me,” he said calmly. “Whether you believe it or not has nothing to do with it, my grandson told me that he was in heaven and that people there were thirty four years old, and I believe him.”
I knew I did not have to reason with Martinus, for he was convinced that what his grandson told him was the truth, and who was I to say that he was making it all up anyways. I think it bothered him that I was skeptical about his grandson's information about heaven, so to support his story, I suppose, he shot off another arrow, this time about his departed wife of whom I had never heard him talk before.
“When my wife passed away the funeral home people about asked what clothes they should use for her burial. I knew she had this red dress she really liked and told my granddaughter who was a great help to me with the arrangements and all that, to take that dress over to the funeral home, which she did.
So, the viewing was held in the church and just before the service I was going to see her too.
He swallowed hard before he continued. “For the last time.”
“When I looked at my wife I got the shock of my life. I was horrified to see that they had not dressed in her beautiful red dress, but in a red working dress. My granddaughter had taken the wrong dress to the funeral home. I felt so bad about it, I didn't hear a word of the sermon. All I saw was my wife laying there in her work clothes.
“So, now we're standing all around the grave site, all the family, the pastor, and everyone in unison say the articles of faith, except me, as I was still seeing her in her working outfit and thought I heard her scold me. I never in my life felt so bad. I cried, I really did.
My grandson was standing beside me, and you may not believe this either, but he said
“Grandpa, don't worry, I saw Oma in heaven, and she was standing there like an angel, and she was dressed in a beautiful white dress.”