Her name was Geraldine. She became the second wife of my Great Uncle, my maternal grandmother’s younger brother. His first wife died many years before and he remained alone until he met and married Gerry. The couple and their boxer, Boots, lived a simple life and enjoyed their well kept home located in an idyllic suburban neighborhood with tree lined streets, manicured lawns, and flower gardens. They lived in upper New York state and after my uncle died we kept in touch with her through cards and letters and traveled to visit just a few times through the years.
As often happens his widow, our Aunt Gerry, had to sell the lovely home and move to an apartment, actually relocating several times but remaining in the same area. She suffered through the years from diabetes having one leg amputation after another and finally resulting in a total loss of both legs.
I want to tell you about a particular encounter with this woman. My mother, who was a favorite with her aunt, asked if we would drive up to pay Aunt Gerry a visit. We arrived mid morning at her ground level apartment in a duplex on the edge of town. Her aid answered the door greeting us warmly and showing us into a small but cozy living room illuminated by several windows facing a back yard with several bird houses and feeders.
Our aunt sat in a wheel chair and, of course, the first thing we noticed was her missing limbs. Secondly, it was her familiar voice and warm smile that held our attention. The three of us talked easily about the family, our uncle, the past and the present. We watched various birds through the windows as we chatted. I felt comfortable and could have remained for hours more.
Noon came and the aid returned from the kitchen. She sat down for a while and told us how independent our aunt was taking care of her own bills and finances, dictating letters to friends and relatives, and having visitors. The caretaker spent several hours a day with our aunt and obviously admired her. She said a meal of boiled chicken was prepared for all of us and took my mom and me into the ten by ten kitchen.
She asked if we would clean up after the meal because she had to leave, My mom said we didn’t want to impose and we planned to eat out. The woman was emphatic telling us how much people who lived and ate alone loved to have someone to eat with. I immediately said we would stay. Mom agreed and we gathered snugly around kitchen table. We sat down and Aunt Gerry bowed her head and folded her hands with eyes closed. That moment became forever fixed in my heart. It was not what she said, but how she talked to God that impressed me. We always say grace but this was the ultimate grace. She spoke to Him as if He too was dining with us. I felt His presence.
Before we left that day she showed us an old shoe box filled to the top with hospital wrist bands from her numerous hospital stays. It was our last visit but she is one of those I keep in touch with even now and pray for the grace of my Great Aunt.