During the Rhineland Campaign in Germany during World War II, on March 19, 1945, a soldier named Frank was shot and left for dead. When the medics came through after the fighting to take the wounded to a field hospital, they placed Frank topmost, on top of a pile of dead soldiers.
Two days later, as the dead were picked up for burial, one of the medics noticed that Frank's body was still warm and that his right eye kept blinking. So he was rushed to a local hospital, then on to Paris, and on to London, even though no one held out much help for him. Then they flew him back to the States. He was still in serious condition, and doctors and nurses worked on him in four different hospitals.
While in Ashford, W. Va., the hospital called a priest to give Frank last rites. Frank overheard this conversation and did his best to tell them no, he did not want last rites. Because of his injuries he couldn't talk but could only make funny noises. Fortunately, a nurse's aide from McKeen County, Pa., who had comforted him after three surgeries, heard him. As the priest left, she heard him whisper, "Wine, wine."
Now this soldier had been raised in a Windish immigrant family. His parents had come from Austria and he had been accustomed to drinking wine at his mother's noon meal, as we drink water. Out of pity, the nurse's aide sneaked him wine, thinking to help this dying man. The wine helped him and gradually he could speak above a whisper. So each day she gave him a bit more. Finally, word of what she was doing began to travel throughout the hospital. Doctors could not believe it, but now he was given wine regularly.
Years later, this soldier would tell how, after drinking the wine, he would dream of going through a dark tunnel towards a light. He thought he was going to heaven, but a woman in white would lead him back the other way out of the tunnel. He would wake up to find himself still living. He spent three and one- half years in hospitals before returning to his family.
How do I know this story? How do I know about angels picking up the living among the dead, about an angel hearing his whisper and giving him wine, about an angel guiding him away from heaven and back to life? How do I know? Because I was married to Frank for 47 years, before an angel finally guided him to his heavenly home.
Grace Gaspar is a member of Trinity UCC in Pleasant Valley, Quakertown, Pa.