For my entire adult life, she’s never been more than a phone call away. And call her I did. She was the first to learn Daniel was arrested. The first one told Tim had cancer. Over the phone we celebrated all my life’s accomplishments. And we cried over all my challenges.
For the past 50 some years, I’ve spent hours pouring my heart out to her, knowing she’d not only understand, but also give me a perspective to help me to grow.
So it’s hard to watch Aunt Jeanne Marie struggle with dementia. It’s hard to adjust when she forgets who she’s talking to. It’s painful when she knows it. And when she gets upset, my heart aches.
Aging is hard. And to think my whole life it’s gone on around me. But in the selfishness of my youth, I’ve looked the other way. I wasn’t around as my grandparent’s aged. And both my parent’s died relatively young. So much of this journey is new to me.
But I’ve been calloused toward the aging. I’ve not noticed their struggle, or been mindful that I could possibly help.
I guess it’s human nature, or maybe it’s our youth obsessed culture. We enter this world with guns a blazing. We wail like mad at the first hint of our need. We’re like the two-year-old on the toilet when an earthquake rumbles who asks his mother, “What did I do?” We would never say it out loud, but we do think the world revolves around us.
But God has a way of pulling us back in. Of reminding us there’s a reason the weak shall inherit the earth. That deep down satisfaction comes when we give ourselves away. That self-centeredness is the fastest route to self-destruction. Aging has a way of bringing it all back around. Of teaching us how helpless we really are.
I cherish my Aunt Jeanne Marie. And to me, she will always be that 30 something beauty that stepped into my life after my father died. And I don’t care if today she thinks I’m her sister Josephine, or that Uncle Eugene is Uncle Lewis. I’ll just roll with it for as long as she’s willing to talk.
For my hope lies in the truth that God is in the business of making all things new. And for those of us who put our trust in Christ, we will all get new bodies. And one day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. But in the mean time, God is preparing a place for my Aunt Jeanne Marie. A place with no more tears, no more death, and no more dying.
And to that I say, come Lord Jesus, come.