Almost Heaven

I went back home last weekend to West Virginia.  Yes, it is ‘almost heaven’.  Do you see the wall of trees behind the welcome sign?  That is what I saw for days of driving.  Nothing but hills and trees and sky.  My home state.  Country roads.  They took me home.  I belonged there.  John Denver knew.

It has been a long time since I drove back home.  I’m so glad I did.  The rolling hills are dramatic.  Don’t take your eyes off the road, because every twisting turn in the crooked roads has a breathtaking view.

Vermont comes close to this grandeur.  It is breathtaking.  Just me and the hills of West Virginia.  The memories were a warm blanket.  Almost heaven.


I have vivid memories of driving on old Rt 60 in our family station wagon.  There were houses built on ‘near cliffs’, as the hills were so steep.  We worried going uphill, as the old car barely hit 30 MPH.  If you like the roller coaster, you would love this drive.  No one in the family liked the drive.  I was the one who got car sick.

When the interstate was built, it felt like going from horse and buggy to driving a car.  The most interesting part is seeing how on earth they engineered putting roads straight through hills.  Imagine a huge hill, cut through the middle.  Here is our approach to one:

There is another ‘almost heaven’ to my visit.

My brother died in December of 2019, and we hoped for a spring funeral.  Covid hit, and the funeral was on hold for what seemed like forever.  At last, all my sisters gathered this past weekend.

Our brother’s funeral was a gift, a chance to be together.  We laughed and cried.  We told old stories and looked at pictures.  It was the spark of a flint and a cozy blanket, all together.  We were sisters.  It felt so good.

The funeral was at Trinity Episcopal Church where we had all grown up.  I was married in that church, and my sisters were, too.  Nothing had changed.  The stairs were exactly the same, and that made me smile.  Walking up and down brought memories from childhood to adulthood.  Almost heaven.

I was a reader during the service.  Somehow my words were the best things to say.

1 John 3:1-2
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.  What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

I practiced the reading many times.  It felt right.  I knew when I read to the congregation, that for my brother it wasn’t ‘almost’, it was heaven.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Expressing words and feelings, Family, geography, Inspiration, Love and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

156 Responses to Almost Heaven

  1. Jaba Paul says:

    If you don’t mind can you please read also my blog I’m new here

  2. Alyssa says:

    Love living in West Virginia! That sign is always a welcome sight on our way home from a visit out west (Midwest) where I grew up. Now I have two home states that I love.

  3. What a timely post to discover. I just returned from several days in Bluefield. WV is a gorgeous state with amazing people.

    • Jennie says:

      Bluefield is beautiful! Well, you said it well that the entire state is gorgeous. And, lovely people. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you.

  4. It’s always awesome feeling to be back where we grew up,,, sometimes it takes longer till we realise the real treasure,, but later than never is even better,,😊

  5. Pingback: Almost Heaven | Psalm 46:10 KJV Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

  6. Hello Jennie! Lovely home. Sending good vibes from Manila!

  7. This post really struck several chords: the mountains, country roads, the Episcopal Church, coming together as a family to mourn and celebrate a brother.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad, Liz. I’m still carrying everything with me, like the feeling you get after finishing a great book, that sticks with you long after reading. The mountains are much like Vermont. My childhood Episcopal church was a tsunami of warm feelings and memories. And of course being together with my sisters was priceless.

  8. mdrakibhasanrion says:


  9. mdrakibhasanrion says:

    best of luck

  10. Pingback: Almost Heaven – FAMILY FREEDOM FUTURE

  11. maulana baba says:

    Wow its nice to read

  12. joylennick says:

    Me again. So sorry about your brother. I lost my eldest brother a year ago this month, And because of Covid, couldn’t attend his funeral in the UK (we’re in Spain). May they rest in peace. I loved: “It was the spark of a flint and a cosy blanket.” And what a delight to listen to John Denver’s Country Road, West Virginia. The countryside looks wonderful! Thank you. Hugs xx .

    • Jennie says:

      How wonderful to read your words, ‘me again’, Joy. Hearing from you is always a joy. We both know what it’s like to postpone a funeral. Awful comes to mind. The delay makes getting together all the sweeter, and I hope you could feel that from far away. Honestly, the funeral was filled with happiness in spite of sadness. I’m so glad you liked my comment, and the John Denver song. It is beautiful! Thank you!

  13. I felt the same about WV – just the drives were so beautiful I cried… And then the hikes… no words.

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