Reflections on life, marriage, and purpose...by a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ann

My last post inspired me to present a story of a good example of a selfless woman grown to her riper years! I came to know this special lady when I worked for her a couple days a week as a teenager. I wrote the following as a tribute to her a few years later. Though I didn't specifically talk about this in my story, I am confident that Ann's selfless spirit grew from her long walk with Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate example of selflessness, and it is only through His grace that we can become like Him!

Ann lived in an assisted living home during the last two or three years of her life. If you walked down a typical hallway in the home, you would be struck by the oppressive “peachiness” of the surroundings. The walls and ceilings were painted a brownish-peach color so drab, so lifeless, that it was a mystery how the residents could walk or wheel themselves down the hall without falling asleep. When I used to go there to visit, I often encountered the urge to find a paintbrush and slap on something cheerful and peppy, like scarlet red or sunshine yellow-- something that would inspire the elderly residents with a fresh sense of verve and vitality when they opened their doors.

Ann, however, chose to be energetic regardless of the gloomy interior. Not in body; her health was so poor that she could hardly move without assistance. No, Ann’s energy emanated from her spirit--a spirit kept alive by the relationships she watered and cared for until the end of her life.

In earlier years, before the death of Ann’s husband, the couple had owned a large ranch in southeast Texas. They worked to fashion it into a haven of hospitality and invited numerous families and church groups over the years to come use their home and property for meetings and retreats. I remember going to the ranch with families from my own church when I was around age seven or eight. The ranch house seemed enormous, with lots and lots of food laid out on long tables inside. Most important to me, the yard featured a trampoline the size of a room.

Shortly after Ann’s husband died, her declining health forced her to sell the ranch. But Ann’s friends-- borne of years of generosity to others--were many. By focusing on these others, Ann continued to have a full life as she entered her twilight years.

As a teenager, I used to spend time with Ann every week at the peach-colored home. By now she was in her late seventies, and her health complications were becoming more encumbering. I was there to help her with things she could no longer do herself, like pick up and organize her apartment, read, write letters. And that is what she mostly wanted to do--write letters. Her address book was the size of the King James Bible. I even remember writing a letter to Elisabeth Elliot, whom Ann claimed as a personal friend.

Unlike many others in the home, Ann had a continual stream of visitors. She accepted each guest with graciousness, offering them simple refreshments such as coffee and cookies. She always made the effort to apply fresh lipstick and blush before greeting visitors or leaving her apartment, desiring people to know that she considered them important enough to dress up for.

Ann also had a sense of fun that kept a light in her eyes long after she had lost much of her sight. Once, a friend arrived at Ann’s home to collect some money--she was going to help Ann by purchasing a wedding shower gift for a mutual acquaintance. Ann counted out the money and handed it to her friend. “Now listen,” she instructed, her eyes shining conspiratorially. “I want you to go to the lingerie store and get the naughtiest thing you can find.” A couple of days later, Ann arrived merrily at the shower and bestowed upon the unsuspecting young bride-to-be something resembling leopard print dental floss.

The last time I saw Ann was shortly before I left home for college. She wanted to hear all about my plans, and then she told me about the plans of several other college students she knew. When I was leaving, she gave me some gifts--a plaster figurine from the dollar store and a picture of herself and her husband that had been taken probably fifty years earlier. Normally, I would have no use for dollar-store plaster figurines, but Ann’s gift was different. The figurine--a young woman holding wildflowers, the coloring fresh and alive--made me realize that Ann wanted to be remembered, not as a feeble old woman, but as the animated young woman in her picture, as the youthful spirit of the figurine. Yes, her body was old and dying, but she was still very much alive. And she held on to that sparkle of life by staying wide awake to the world of people around her. I hold on to that figurine still, in remembrance of Ann.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mrs.B. said...

**sniff**....please pass the kleenex(o:

WOW!!What a beautiful and touching story!

1:18 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Kristen said...

*tears*

Thanks for sharing that with us. She reminds me of my grandmother Johnnie, who is now with the Lord.

2:52 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks, ladies:o) Ann is now with the Lord as too. She was a wonderful lady.

3:01 PM, February 03, 2006  

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