Love’s Shining Star

This morning I have shed a few more tears for my Aunt Becky.  I have mentioned her in a previous post…she is 63 and is dying of ovarian cancer.  She is mentally retarded and lives in a rest home not too far from my house.  She moved there with my grandmother some ten years ago and it’s become her home.  The caretakers there love her, which really you can’t help but do.  Like so many precious people with mental disability she is sweet and simple and honest.  She never learned all of our “social graces” and so she doesn’t try to hide her true self because of what others think. 

She always lived with my grandparents until my grandfather passed and my grandmother was unable to care for them alone.  So, as I grew up spending summer days and weekend nights at my grandma and grandpa’s, Becky was a part of that.  Throughout these last several  months it has hit me just a little harder how much she has impacted me as a person.  And I can tell because honestly, I’ve cried more tears over her sickness and looming death than I did over my grandparents.  I don’t know why…well, I think maybe because it just doesn’t seem fair. 

Becky never lived an independent day in her life.  She was able to have a job in a greenhouse at a local university through a special program, but she never went to school or learned the alphabet.  She never learned to read or write.  She never went to hang out with her friends as a teenager and she was never kissed by a man who loved her.  Becky never rocked a sleeping infant at 3am.  She never climbed any ladders of success or received any accolades…but boy did she shine.

Becky’s birthday is in December so every Christmas we would also bring her birthday gifts and, without fail, she would light up and then cry as though she was surprised!  She also would let you know if you gave her something she already had!  She did that to me this past year and I just had to smile…so unpretentious…so honest…I could only wish to be more like her.  Becky has always been very much into “creative jewelry.”  In her child-like way, she would take a plastic beaded necklace (or 4 or 5) and wear them fearlessly.  Once at my daughter’s birthday party she pointed out which of Rivers’ necklaces she would like to have…and of course she got it!  Anyone that knows my aunt is smiling because they know this is true.  She loves ‘happy meal’ toys and you might see one tied into a ring on her finger…she loves stuffed animals and you might see one of those tied to her walker.  What I truly believe she loves most of all, is her family.

Every time I walked into that rest home over the years she was most likely sitting in the lobby or maybe coloring in the lunchroom…either way, her face was sure to light up when she saw me.  For a long time, well until recently, it was hard in a way to be in that place.  I have shared before how sad it can be to see so many precious people forgotten in older age.  My aunt was never forgotten…she may live in a rest home but my aunts and cousins visited.  Becky is special to us all.  Still, so many broken and lonely people and it would hang heavy on my soul as I left…until recently.  Perhaps because Jesus is teaching me to reach out to the others, as well.  To give them more than a smile…to ask their name and remember it.  To linger a few more minutes.

What is my post about today?  Well, as I thought about my Aunt and how soon she will leave us, I asked God…please give her the most gaudy crown you have because she would love that.  And these verses came to mind:

Matthew 18: 2-4 (amplified)
And He {Jesus} called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, and said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children {trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving}, you can never enter the kingdom of heaven {at all}. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child {trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving} is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:30 (the message)
This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.

In our society, my Aunt Becky is one of the last.  She is overlooked because she has no “look at how great I am” pins on her lapel and also because it can be uncomfortable for others to face how life could have been…the random injustice.  But you know what?  God is just and He never overlooks a soul.  While we all strive to prove how smart, capable and beautiful we are, people like my Aunt are just living an “elemental” life.  The basics:  trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving.  In my heart I think that is the kind of life that brings a smile to God’s face.  He must grow weary with us sometimes…rat-racing every day to “be somebody” when He has been telling us all along we already are “somebody.”  My Aunt never knew she needed to lose weight or that she wasn’t “beautiful” physically.  She never seemed to be concerned that she wasn’t projecting the right image of a successful life.  Sure, she didn’t have the mental capacity to fully understand what we do…but really is that so bad? 

What if we lived with a child-like heart?  What if we used our God-given talents and abilities to lift others up?  What if we were “simple” enough to realize the fulfillment in just loving other people?  What if we were fearless enough to be ourselves despite what our culture says is of worth?

We  may have a lot to show outwardly for our lives, but I think Becky, and people like her, have something most of us don’t.  They just love people and all they want in return is just a little of our time.    Wow…that reminds me of someone else I know…Jesus!  He loves us and  just wants a little of our time.  Jesus was a pretty basic guy…and no life on earth is more impacting and powerful than His.  Loving other people is powerful.  And like my Aunt in December, I think God’s eyes light up when we live that way.  Lord Jesus, help us to experience The Great Reversal now…that our “grown up and sophisticated” lives will become basic…trusting, loving, lowly, forgiving. 

Becky, you will always be a shining star in our family…

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