My grandmother’s youngest sister, Vinnie Mae, lay awake in her bed. At 87-years-old, her once busy life of leading the choir, running an interior design business with her husband, and teaching high school had progressed into a slow decline of health and awareness from Alzheimer’s disease. She was the last living member of the Davis children, originally represented by seven girls and one boy, all born in the early 1900s.
When my sister and I were pre-teens, Aunt Vinnie insisted we sing in the choir at the small church where my grandmother’s family worshipped. I wonder if she knew how often the two of us carried on sign language conversations in the choir row behind her while the pastor preached. If so, she never said anything to us. She wanted us in church, learning about and singing for Jesus; even if it meant putting up with our shenanigans.
Visiting Aunt Vinnie brought mixed emotions for me. I was always glad to see her but it was sad to see her lying in the twin-size hospital bed, being spoon-fed by a stranger. Her home was no longer her own, now decorated and tended to by a kind woman, formerly unknown to any of our family.
So, on this particularly stormy and cold day, I thought of something positive to say to Aunt Vinnie on my visit. “I’m glad you didn’t have to go out in this weather today, Aunt Vinnie. It’s awful out there.”
“Oh, but I did go out!” she beamed. “Tommy and I went to Norfolk Wholesale Florist and the furniture store.”
After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “That’s great. I’m so glad you two got to have a nice day together.”
Now, I was quite aware that she had laid there under her covers all day and Tommy had been with the Lord well over a decade. Early on in her disease, I would have given in to the urge to help her remember what actually went on. But, not now. I realized at that moment that the Lord had blessed her mind with a totally better day than her body had experienced.
It reminded me of the scripture:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT
Helen Keller is quoted as having said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
I had been looking at the closed door – the once vibrant and take-charge woman who I admired, now totally dependent on others. And that afternoon, God gave me a glimpse of the door He had opened for her. I no longer looked at her situation the same. By the thoughts God had allowed in her mind, He had given her a more precious day than her reality would have allowed.
When I think of the vastness of God’s abilities to have much greater things going on than we can imagine, I just want to praise Him! He does this all the time for those who love Him. Why should we waste our emotions with worry and sadness? God’s got something going on in the background; what we see is always cloaked by our mortal limitations.
Any time the memory of the truths revealed to me during my special visit with my great-aunt cross my mind, I just want to sing, “My God, How Great Thou Art!”
Aunt Vinnie would have enjoyed that.
Printed with permission, Beth Patch © 2012