I want to share a story from my in-progress book, Breaking Through the Clouds. Aunt Annie Mary, 92, the story’s subject, just peacefully passed away this week. Rest in peace, Auntie. Enjoy!!
“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.”
Blessings come at the most unexpected times. I’d just finished writing a novel and tons of ads for publicity web postings. A break is welcome.
So when Lee asks, “do you want to visit your Aunt Annie Mary at Maranatha?” my heart leaps with joy.
“Yes!” My fatigue vanishes. “And Hallelujah!”
My aunt is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She is 86
has a sparkle in her hazel eyes—so like my late dad’s– and still loves fun.
Lee has errands to run inSpartanburg and drops me off for the visit, giving us our private girls’ time. Aunt Annie Mary and I often read the Bible together and share stories of how God has blessed us both through the years.
One day, we watched squirrels play in the little red bird houses nailed to posts outside the window. “I started feeding them scraps from my meals,” she said. “But soon, everybody started racing me to get there first with their scraps.” She shrugged. “So I just started watching.”
I realized that disappointment came when others seized upon what she considered her calling. That such little things mattered so much touched me.
At Maranatha Assisted Living, I found her in her room, scrounging in her bedside table. She is short and not as fluffy as she once was. Still, she looks remarkably healthy for her age.
”I’m looking for the key to my trunk,” she mutters over her shoulder. Her goodies are in the floor chest and, because some residents wander into rooms with sticky fingers, she’s forced to keep it locked. She is also forced to hid her key. Sometimes she hides it too well.
Today, with cravings gnawing, the missing key thwarts her. Frustrated, she says, “It’s hooked onto a red stretch belt and I usually hang it on my bedpost.”
No big deal, right?
“I’ll help look,” I cheerfully offer. We ravage drawers and pull down the bed sheets. “Look in your pockets,” I tell her. She pulls out her jacket and blouse pockets and reluctantly concedes defeat.
A trip to the office reveals that she was out of extras left by her kids for ‘emergencies. Like today. She handles it like a trooper and we sit in the nice parlor to chat and reminisce, enjoying a show through the window which overlooks the porch.
Backed up to the window, sitting on a bench, is a courting Maranatha couple. Auntie nudges me to watch. The white-haired man blows on the silver-haired woman’s neck.
Then he kisses her neck. I am shocked! Not Auntie, who says, “watch.”
Then, they kiss–a real lock-lips, suck-face kiss (as my grandkids call it). I look at Auntie and we burst into laughter.
She shrugs. “Well, they don’t have to worry about what folks think any more.”
“You’re right,” I agree, “they don’t.” And I think, it’s never too late for romance. We return to her room and she tells me about a July Fourth family shindig she attended with her two sisters who come and kidnap her for fun things.
”I got up and danced with the band,” she says, grinning.
”Who with?” I ask, delighted.
“What kind of dance did you do?”
“The two-step,” she says proudly.
I am so amazed at her—at her spirit and zeal.
I find myself wishing for her zest for adventure. Her craving revs up again. We resume the search for the elusive key. She picks up a kitchen fork, jams the handle in the lock and shoots me a tentative look.
Quickly I suggest, “Let’s look some more before breaking it,” I end up in the floor looking under furniture and behind the bed. The entire room is fine-toothed again.
No key. Time is gone. I must leave.
She walks me to the car.
We hug and say sweet good-byes.
An hour later, she calls me. “I watched you till you were out of sight, then stuck my hand in my slacks pocket and guess what? I found my key!”
I laugh out loud. “That’s wonderful!”
She adds,”I knew you’d worry about it. Just wanted you to know.”
Warmth lingers from the visit and as we ring off, I think how precious is the time with her. I think, too, how beautiful the golden years can be.
Aunt Annie Mary’s gift is in showing me that.