First published October 7, 1988
Eight years ago, my great-grandmother saw Jesus. Senility had taken her out of her little frame house—in which I most clearly remember her sitting with feet raised, reading the Bible and literature from Billy Graham—and confined her to a nursing home. On the night she saw Jesus, she apparently had planned to escape. She had shuffled to a back door, opened it, and fallen on the concrete stoop.
When an orderly found her, Great-grandma was lifeless. She was delivered to a hospital. Family was alerted and, when they arrived at the hospital, told that Grandma Nash was clinically dead. My aunt, Grandma Nash's youngest daughter, had already telephoned a few relatives with the news, when elevator doors across the hall opened and a breathless nurse appeared. Grandma Nash, she said, was alive.
The next night, as Grandma Nash recovered from the fall, my father sat at her bedside and read the Bible aloud. At one point she interrupted him and declared, "I saw Jesus last night. I saw him twice. God is so good, he's so good to me."
I have known two other people who had similar experiences. If my count is not atypical, most readers of this magazine know at least one person who came close to death and lived to tell of it. Philosopher cum psychiatrist Raymond Moody, Jr., struck by the pervasiveness of such accounts, coined the phrase near-death experience and made the NDE household parlance with the 1975 publication of his Life After Life (Bantam/ Mockingbird), which went on to sell three million copies.
Interest in the near death experience has not abated in the years since. Television programs from "Donahue" to "Nightline" have focused on the subject, ...