She was in a wheelchair when her caregiver opened the door to her room. A week before, she’d been walking. Now she sat, her shoulders slumped, her head down, apparently asleep. Her name is Anna.
“She was sick last week and the drugs they gave her are still in her system. That’s why she’s so bad today,” I was told. “Anna, hold your head up!‚“
Anna’s eyes opened. Her head did come up. Anna was with us after all. And was she ever! Her words started slowly, but once released, they flowed like a mountain stream, pausing rarely, bubbling with life and love.
She spoke of her mother and dad. “Mother used to say, ‘Trust God, Anna, and everything will be all right.’ And my Dad, he told me, ‘Anna, you’re a young lady and I’m proud of you.’”
I spotted Anna’s picture was on the wall‚ a young woman, strong and lovely at the beginning of her life. How Mother’s love had held her, how Father’s pride had lifted her! And behind and beneath them both lived the love of the lord she met through them.
As I listened, I thought of this article and wondered how I could ever remember the words of this precious conversation to share them with you readers. How could I share Anna’s smiling spirit with you? Here is a woman at the end of her life, white haired and frail, spending strength and time to tell me about her parents’ love and the God who was its source.
It was hard to stop and visit. It always is. I find it hard to tear away from the computer or the kids or the phone or the kitchen or the to-do list to sit and be with someone. But it’s a gift of my job as a pastor that sometimes I just have to stop and visit and I’d been told Anna was having a tough time.
She talked on. As a child she was full of thoughts about God.
“Mother used to say, ‘Where do you come up with these things?’ But I was just reading in my Bible, and God, he was telling me good things,’ that he was with me, that it would be alright and there was no need to worry. I was sick and I couldn’t get up, so I’d read my Bible.” Anna didn’t remember what had made her sick, but she did remember the God who was with her in the illness, telling her good things.
And Anna just loved going to church. She still does. One special moment, she said, “just felt so good. I was with my kids there at the church. There we were, all together. It just felt good.” To me, the moment sounded like a taste of heaven being with the ones we love the most in the presence of the God who loves us more. Like a friend of mine says, “I’m all over that!”
“Can I share our conversation in an article I’m going to write for the newspaper?” I asked. She looked straight at me, surprised. “Well, of course. Why wouldn’t you talk about Jesus?”
“I don’t know,” I told her back. “I just thought I should ask.”
Big smile. Anna loves Jesus. She loves to talk about him.
It was harder to leave than it was to go. I could barely find a break to say goodbye and didn’t want to try. “Come back,” she said. “I will,” I said, committing myself. Another visit soon will bless us both. There will be time.
I hope if I grow old and ill that others come to visit and find me telling stories. I hope I tell about my mom and dad and their love for me, about my dear husband and kids and about my family and friends and co-workers and church folk who have filled my life with riches. I hope I tell about the God who comes and tells me good things in many voices when I stop to listen. And I hope that today I pause to be loved and to love, to be thankful, and to remember. I hope you do, too.