People come and go in our lives.
Some disappear like a wisp of smoke.
Some leave footprints…
Phyllis Margaret – my Auntie Phyllis. She left footprints.
Saturday I attended a memorial service for my aunt. It was a wonderful time. Lots of relatives and friends. We remembered her, and we remembered God. It was both honoring to my aunt's memory, and glorifying to the One who gave her life.
I shared these thoughts about her. I wanted to share them with you.
I had only one aunt – my dad had just his brother, and my mom was an only child – and so, Auntie Phyllis was a special person to me.
The one thing I remember about her is how she and I always liked to talk. Even from the time when I was a very, very little girl.
I was the first child born in my extended family, so of course I bonded with my only aunt, who was only 17 years older than me. And I guess I was quite a chatterbox! Auntie Phyllis always had a bunch of questions for me, and I always had a lot of answers…
…often about things I probably shouldn't be talking about!
Like the one time she asked me what was new – and I proceeded to tell her about the *unmentionable problem* that I had brought home from school that required (me yakking) "my whole family has to take this red medicine that tastes really yucky, and my dad has to take the most, and Mom has to wash all our clothes and sheets in boiling water…etc." My dad was thrilled that I passed that one on – come to think of it, my mom didn't seem too happy either.
When I became a teenager, I remember how my aunt always knew the latest singing groups or songs, how she dressed like us, and always wanted to talk about things in my teenage life. I thought she was really cool – especially for an *old* lady. (C'mon, what was I thinking – she was only like 33 at the time!! Oh, soooo old…)
She and I were a lot alike. Kinda serious, kinda sensitive, kinda philosophical – (OK, *really* all those things…)
We talked about life –
We laughed about girl stuff, we dissected life stuff, and we pondered God stuff. We shared some of the same faith struggles – and yet, we always shared the same deep love for Jesus.
My aunt was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease when she was only 45 years old. She had a long hard struggle with it. She was only 73 when she died.
I will never forget the last conversation I had with my aunt. It was about a year ago. She had severely deteriorated in the last few years of her life, and was living in a care facility. Her lucid moments came and went. But this day was a *good day*, and I had a chance to talk to her.
I remember her telling me how thankful she was for her Parkinson's. I couldn't believe my ears. Thankful for it?? It had devastated her normal life. It would end up shortening it. How could she be grateful?
She told me she thanked the Lord for it – that because of her Parkinson's, she had finally found what her purpose was – what she had been born to do. She was a missionary, a witness to everyone she met. Saturday I found out that she often went throughout the halls whispering in the ears of fellow residents, "Jesus loves you."
She told me she was happy, at peace. I told her how much that made me happy. We told each other how much we loved each other. And I told her I wasn't sure if I'd be able to see her (she lived in Oregon) – she told me not to worry, she didn't have too many good days anymore.
But, I remember saying this, "Auntie Phyllis, if I don't see you again in this life, I will see you again in Heaven."
She said something like this to me, "Oh, sweetie, I know. Won't it be wonderful?!"
God gave my aunt a great gift at the end of her life. She, who had spent nearly 30 years tortured and plagued by the ravages of Parkinson's, went quietly to sleep one night and never woke up – at least in this life!
God gave her – after struggling through a very difficult life – a completely easy and peaceful death.
So yes, Saturday was a day of good grief. That's how it is with believers. We grieve, we weep, knowing how much we'll miss our loved one – but we do not grieve without hope.
Jesus, our dear Jesus, took care of all that…
Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary defines grief this way (and you just knew it would, didn't you?!):
I n light of
E verlasting life
I'm sad, yes, but I'm overjoyed for my aunt. I'm celebrating with her.
Because, you see, it was her Homecoming Day!
Now the night is over,
Day has just begun,
Ushered into Heaven,
I am with the Blessed One.
Many have come before me,
Others have paved the way,
The angels sing His glory,
It’s my homecoming day!
To a mansion promised,
Where tears are forever gone,
Where light and love united,
Live eternally on and on.
All the past forgotten,
As a fog that’s swallowed up,
Pain destroyed, death defied –
I now drink from the Master’s cup.
I am here because of Him,
His selfless gift of grace,
And now for eternity,
I will gaze upon His face.
Glory be His shining robes,
Honor be His crown –
My spirit sings, my soul redeemed,
In His presence I bow down.
Now the world has passed from view,
The victory’s been won –
He says, “Well done my faithful servant,
Welcome home, my precious one.”
© Sharon Kirby
March 1, 2002
"For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]." (Philippians 1:21, Amplified Bible)
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