She sits in a rolling recliner with her eyes half closed.
Four years ago, she used to sit in a chair outside the children's ministry bathrooms making sure those little boys washed their hands.
I walk up to her and smile. She smiles tentatively, obvious that she doesn't remember me at first sight.
I say my name and her eyes widen. She cannot stop exclaiming that I remember her. I tell her that she's pretty impossible to forget. She smiles and chuckles.
We talk. I walk down memory lane with her about that feisty 90 year old who sat in a chair so those little boys would have clean hands. She smiles again.
I remind her how she told me to talk to my dad and work things out with him. She praises God for His faithfulness even though some progress is made and then lost.
We talk about family, church, life... She still can't believe I remember her.
She comments that she was so busy. I tell her that she put busy people to shame! She once told me that her one goal in life was to use every breath in living for her Savior. She did and is doing just that. From being to church early just to help me get ready Sunday morning to delivering meals and visiting those who couldn't get up and around... she truly put "busy" people to shame. Such an example of life and words in tandem.
I take out the little gift I hastily wrapped for her. A cheery pack of orange and pink flower post-its and a little journal. I feel awkward now realizing her writing must not be what she would like it to be. But I explain what my children do with the shaped post-its. How they write and draw their "thankful-things" and stick them anywhere and everywhere. I tell her how I would feel if I were in her shoes. Freedom and ability taken away and now under the constant supervision of healthcare people. She looks down. I tell her that I would need to remember all the good things I have. She keeps thanking me for the little gift.
I take out my iPad and scroll through pictures of the kids and Easter and Mike being silly with them. I show her video clips of the Star Wars birthday party and the sugar-crazed boys whacking Mike with the lightsabers he made for them. She chuckles and reminds me to treasure these things. They are what is truly important.
We get talking about sickness and bodies and I say how someday... someday! we will have perfect bodies and her face just glows! We agree that we can't wait. Sin and hurts and terrible things in this world make us long for perfection.
We look at more pictures but I can tell (even though she would have me stay another hour) she is tired.
I ask if I can pray with her before I go. She would love it, she says.
I take both of those beautifully soft wrinkled hands into my own and bow my head. As I begin to lift her up in prayer and thanksgiving for all God has done through her, I cannot stop the break in my voice as I ask God to give me endurance and let me run my race with abandon as she has run hers. With tears, I praise God for placing her in my life and ask Him to encourage her to finish strong.
As I wheel her back out to the open area, I give her another hug and tell her again that I will be back and to stay feisty. She smiles and chuckles and I feel as if somehow I've been given the greatest gift instead doing the reverse.
She's almost in the cloud of witnesses but she's still here cheering me on. Keep loving your husband, Ruth. Make time to sew that twirly dress for your little girl. She will grow up far too soon. Get down and play trains and legos with your boys. Never be too busy to be silly. And never, ever pass up a chance to laugh!
Okay, Veryl. You have my promise.