I had the privilege today of transporting my mother and father in law to visit their ailing sister/sister-in-law. She was diagnosed three years ago with a rare blood disease and is in hospice now, so we were there most likely to say goodbye. While it was sad to possibly be saying goodbye to a much loved aunt of my husband and myself, best anyone could ask for, I found a precious beauty in our visit. There was something so beautiful watching Eric's mom, Mickey, 82 and her sister, Cecelia, 74 reminisce while holding hands about the wonderful lives they shared and express their love for each other. There was more tenderness and appreciation than I've ever seen. It was a beautiful picture of the strong bonds of their relationship and the power of their love for each other. Their parents would have been so pleased to see their daughters live their lives loving each other as much as they did. I know I would be. These sisters incidentally couldn't be more different (Aunt Cecelia, the adventurer loving traveler, and my mother in law, the homebody, dog loving, piano teacher) and they couldn't love each other more.
I married into the family an unbelievable 33 years ago, (I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm indeed getting old myself). In fact, Aunt Cecelia is the very first person I met even before Eric's parents. I was super nervous to make a good impression, but she has a wonderful natural ability to put people at ease and welcomed me with open arms. It's a God given gift and she shares it with everyone she meets. She's one of those people everyone wants to be best friends with and thinks they are! She and Bob her husband have three daughters who are now grown and married with children. Each one of them, just as gracious as their mother. Of course, they had the very best example in their mom. It warms my heart to see them lovingly step in and care for all the logistics of arranging meals, home health care, and even emailing to update the family on their mom's status. I was touched by the capable care of her sweet daughters today, Ashley and Jennifer and Hayley who are each setting aside their own busy lives just like their own mom did for her mother to care for their parents. We were even served one of Hayley's famous bundt cakes when we arrived. We are in the south!
As we drove into the long driveway to their farmhouse, memories came flooding back to so many visits to their house. Each visit they tirelessly saddled up their horses for any and all of us who were visiting/ feeding the chickens. I remember hiding my terror fairly well as I cantered on one of their horses for the first time ever! Cecelia loved teaching all our children and grandchildren about riding and taking care of horses and chickens and they loved learning from her.
We couldn't visit very long but we did visit long enough to share sweet memories and appreciation for her and pray with her. Even as she found it hard to speak, she couldn't help asking about how we were doing, always caring so much about our lives. Uncomfortable as she is to be on the receiving end, she is giving to us still the chance to love her and pray with her and be with her which is the best gift of all.