You know the quote, I'm sure, although you will seldom find me crying at the lack of shoes because I avoid them like the plague. However, those words came to mind Friday after visiting Cliff's aunt at Versailles.
Gertrude is one of Cliff's two last remaining aunts. Her sister, Lois, has Alzheimer's, but Aunt Gertrude is sharp as a tack. Her grandchildren have even introduced her to Facebook. I can't keep from smiling when I see a comment or a "like" from her on something I've posted. Not bad for a ninety-year-old woman.
Friday morning I looked across the living room at Cliff and saw by the worry lines on his face that he was pondering something, I assumed maybe his latest tractor project. So I asked him what he was so seriously mulling over.
"I'm thinking about going to see Aunt Gertrude today," he said. "The trouble is, she and I are both so deaf it seems like we say nothing but "huh?" to one another, and I end up visiting with Darrell instead of her. It sort of seems like a wasted trip if I'm going for her sake."
"But she will know you cared enough to go see her," I responded.
So we decided to go to Versailles.
Aunt Gertrude has been plagued by asthma in her later years. Her old house had mold in it and was sending her to the hospital several times a year. So she moved in with her oldest son, Darrell, whose house is brand new and mold-free. I always enjoy listening to conversations between him and Cliff because he is a story-teller; everybody knows how I love stories, and Darrell has hundreds of them. He's led an interesting life.
As it happens, we had a nice visit with the two of them in spite of the hearing problems. We were getting ready to leave when Aunt Gertrude asked Cliff if we could take her to the Dollar Store. You see, Darrell has a form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis and is in constant pain, so he can't do a lot of shopping or be on his feet too much. Aunt Gert uses a walker around the house and isn't all that steady on her feet, and the walker takes up too much room in the crowded aisles of the Dollar General, so Darrell told Cliff one of us would have to stay with her every step to make sure she didn't fall. "I can hold onto the shopping cart," said Aunt Gert, "and that's just like having my walker."
Aunt Gert is, like Darrell, in a lot of constant pain. She has taken a couple of falls and has a shoulder that hurts all the time. She can't even pat my hair any more! Every time we ever visited her she would mention how pretty my curly hair is. Then she would pat it and remark on its softness. But now she can't raise her arm that high.
After Darrell's careful instructions to us, Aunt Gert put on a dust mask, as she does any time she goes outside. Cliff offered her his arm, helped her into the car, and away we went.
It was very rewarding to see how much fun a housebound person can have when she finally gets the chance to shop. She was like a kid in a candy shop; now that I think of it, there was a lot of candy in her shopping cart. Christmas is coming, you know. I kept telling her to take her time, that we were in no hurry. Cliff stood by, handing her the items she couldn't reach on the shelves. The whole experience was a genuine pleasure. I don't know when I've enjoyed being in Dollar General so much.
After being reminded of their physical problems, Darrell's and Aunt Gertrude's, I have re-assessed my own petty aches and pains and am counting my blessings. I can still go outside any time I wish. I can breathe with no problem, taking huge volumes of air into my lungs. Sitting or lying down, I am pain-free. Oh yes, if I walk on a hard surface for over an hour, I pay for it the rest of the day. Menard's left me limping on their opening day when we stayed too long. But after spending time with those two, I realize I don't have it bad at all.
It was a good day. I am reminded of a quote I saw and then shared on Facebook Friday morning before we left, because it came to life for me:
"Not everyone will make it through this day. Live with urgency. Do something beautiful. Be the answer to a prayer." John Pavlovitz.