Today was the first time I had taken her to church in months. I didn’t expect it would be “worship-ful,” but since I’ve been feeling poorly for so long and the weather has been uncooperative, she missed all the Christmas concerts I usually take her to. She dearly loves the music.
I hadn’t known what to expect when I picked her up. Two days ago was the Christmas open house at WP. I had taken her to a doctor’s appointment that morning, had her home for lunch, then drove her back hoping she’d have time for a short nap before the festivities began. She didn’t sleep, and by the time I went back for the party she was exhausted. She didn’t know where she was, how she was going to get her meals, where she was going to sleep, and even had trouble finding her way out of her own bathroom.
This morning she was much better. She recited the Lord’s Prayer, but totally forgot what to do with the communion bread and wine. Afterwards, though, I knew I had done the right thing. She talked about the music and how it reminded her of her mother playing the piano in their parlor.
We went to Burger King for lunch. Waiting in line, a man handed me a buy one/get one free Whopper coupon. With two free drinks (seniors’ perogatives!) the total bill was less than $4.00. After her usual “Now be sure to take my portion of this out of my account” (yes, Mother, of course, Mother), she said “Perhaps I should move down here so you don’t have to drive so far to pick me up.”
I said that was very thoughtful of her, but she’s lived in Athens for seven years and is only six miles from my house. (In her mind, she is still back in Berea.)
“Do you know who I am?”
“I think you are my daughter.”
“Do you remember my name?”
I think it is the only time I’ve ever heard her use my given name!
“Why did you name me Justina?”
“Your father wanted you to have a Finnish name. He suggested all kinds of weird ones I knew you’d hate, so I came back to the one he first suggested. He was so happy. He had several relatives with that name.”
I hadn’t heard that story before!
We finished eating and I took her back. Thunderstorms are predicted for the next two days, and I refuse to take her out when it is raining, so I might have to visit her over there on Christmas.
Late this afternoon I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. The camellias are in full bloom, all pink and white, the pyracantha bushes are laden with extravagant mounds of red berries, my daffodils are up, and one precocious forsythia bush has a few yellow blossoms.
It brought to mind the carol “In the Bleak Midwinter.” The beauty and gift of the Incarnation in the midst of decline, loss and sadness – what an experiential sermon this day has been.