My sisters and I went to visit our Aunt Margie on Friday afternoon. Born just 15 months before Mom made her appearance in the world, they grew up close although entirely different as sisters often are. Mom was the more social, Aunt Margie more reserved, and yet it was Aunt Margie who had the full time job at Xerox and she who held the driver's license Mom never obtained.
There was a long period of time in my childhood when Mom and Aunt Margie were not on speaking terms. I'm sure there were wrongs and misunderstandings on both sides of the aisle. That's how it goes with relationships. When I was old enough to cross Main Street (I think I was 9...), I would walk or ride my bike to the village of Webster to play with my cousin Pam at their apartment while Aunt Margie worked.
Though Mom and Aunt Margie's relationship was strained, my aunt was always kind and welcoming. She invited me for supper, took us out shopping, and loved me. I am blessed to have those memories I would otherwise have missed. By the time I "grew up" and my children began to arrive, Mom and Aunt Margie had renewed their relationship. They became fast friends and Aunt Margie was there to welcome each and every child of mine, to celebrate birthdays, and special occasions. She showered us with gifts and cards, bags of chocolate, homemade Christmas cookies, and most of all, love.
visitor. When Mom's conversation with others fell short and sometimes silent, her sister would fill in the gap. She never stopped coming, usually on Thursday afternoons, and with her came a bag of candy, some fresh fruit or a box of cookies, a new puzzle, and always a gift for Mom at Christmas or on her birthday. It was Aunt Margie who took Mom out for dinner dates with their brother, my Uncle Chuck.
I found myself looking at her time and again on Friday, trying to store a mental picture of the woman in front of me, the one with straight gray hair and familiar smiling eyes... She'd told my sisters that she had been to the hairdresser there in the care facility where they washed her hair and it turned that color... She's been there nearly 2 years now but her things are still packed in boxes because "someone is coming to take me home in a couple weeks..." She's not sure why she is there, "It's a place for people with Alzheimer's and dementia" she tells us. "They brought me here by mistake."
I find myself sometimes sad and reflective... but also grateful for the faith that this is not all we have to look forward to. There is a God who loves us, one who knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust. A God who made a way, who paid the price, so that we could have hope beyond what often seems so hopeless here. Aunt Margie is almost 85 now...
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