Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46: 4
Sometimes it’s just amazing to me what we can learn about life from others!
Recently I took my former neighbor and dear friend, Betty, to visit her beloved Aunt Annie, who lives a couple of hours away. I was anxious to meet this sweet little lady I had heard so much about, and I knew how much Betty was longing to see her.
But I cannot find the words to tell you what a blessing it was for me to do so. To see those two precious little women – Betty, who is 87, and her aunt, who is 103 – embrace each other with such love and joy was so heartwarming. It was as if they held on to each other and then “took each other in” as they memorized every feature on each other’s face. For you could see in their eyes that they knew time and distance were not on their side, and these visits might be few in the future. But at that moment, on this day, they were going to enjoy every minute they had together and they did. And they let me be a part of it, and that was such a gift.
Aunt Annie, who she has endearingly come to be known to me, is an absolute wonder and joy! After just being discharged from the hospital a few days before, she was amazingly resilient, able to be up and about, and her spirit was simply incredible. I just sat in complete awe of her as I listened. She made me smile and I loved hearing her stories. She said she had decided not to worry about dieting anymore and she thought she would just focus on enjoying life. (How cute is that at 103, and if you could see her, she is tiny!) She said now as she is starting to feel better, she just wants to “burst out” and live again. And she was all ready to do so and go out to lunch with us, but her therapist came by for a workout so she had to stay. She made us laugh as she said her appetite had not been as good lately, so if we would just bring her a Wendy’s hamburger, that would be great. Her wit, charm, and memory were unbelievable and her enthusiasm for life so uplifting.
We spoke of many things and listening to her tell of her early years as a telephone operator in the 1920’s was fascinating, as she told with excitement of being promoted from a local operator to a long distance one.
As I listened to her so intently, I couldn’t help but notice how flawless her skin was. Her age is quite deceiving for she is beautiful and vivacious. We asked to what she would attribute her secret of longevity and beauty. She immediately smiled and responded that it was totally due to her lifelong use of Estee Lauder, (although she did admit that she has recently changed to Pond’s).
But I knew from our conversations that it was much more. She has such a joyful spirit, and her unshakable and unwavering faith in God is quite obvious. There was evidence of her deep faith in her loving God throughout her small apartment in the assisted living facility where she lives. She spoke of Him as a lifelong, devoted, personal friend and One she has counted on to be with her throughout every day of her life.
The only time she spoke with any hint of sadness was when she told us of the passing of her “special friend” a few weeks earlier. They had spent much time together, enjoyed each other’s company, and he had always come to her room each night to watch TV with her.
Just as in so many friendships, age was not a factor – she was 103, and he, a mere 82, and they cared deeply about each other. But in speaking of him, she quickly added that he had had some serious health problems, and she couldn’t be sad because he was in heaven now, and she was so happy for him. Incredibly, she spoke not of upcoming death in the future for herself, but she was focused on life and living it to the fullest. It must run in the family, for Betty certainly has her beautiful spirit.
Later, in the afternoon, I felt these two needed some special time together before they parted, and I went outside to walk. I thought of Aunt Annie’s sweetness, her enthusiasm for life, and of God’s abiding presence with her. What a beautiful life she has lived, and He has indeed carried her, sustained her, and rescued her with His love and grace over and over again. And He will lovingly rescue her one last time when she becomes weary and worn and ready to leave this world and enter the next. What an example she is for all of us to follow – from this moment on, and throughout our old age and gray hair!
Dear God, thank you for the special people in our lives that teach us more and more about the loving grace you have to give. May we learn from this precious little woman’s example of how to live each day to the fullest – with hope and anticipation, but especially with gratitude for your presence. Thank you for sustaining us and carrying us through, no matter what our age. In your most holy name, Amen