To every thing there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die...
There comes a final time of waiting for each
of us. For those who have lived life fully, that time can become a precious gift,
to be opened lovingly every day.
A childhood friend of mine, died
in her early sixties. During a summer vacation, I visited her mother. She sat on the couch, smiling, elegant and still beautiful at ninety-four years old. I wondered how this loving woman could find a place in her mind for the death of her daughter while
she lived to a great old age. “I don’t know why God still
wants me here,” she said, “but there must be a reason so I will do the best I can until He takes me home.” She just quietly accepted there was a reason beyond her understanding, and she would
wait patiently on His will. I was touched by the quiet dignity of her grief.
I had come to console her, however,
two hours later, I left filled up with the peacefulness that passes all understanding.
She lived to be ninety-eight years old, gracious and uncomplaining to the end.
Later that same day, I went to visit my ninety-three-year-old aunt, residing in an assisted
living residence. I had driven past her old house earlier in the day, finding
it hard to believe that I could no longer go into that kitchen and discuss life over tea and cookies. After all, it had been my pattern for many years—walking across the field between our houses to seek
I entered the room that she shared
with another elderly woman and had a moment’s dismay at her fragility. It
had been a year since I had traveled from California to Virginia, and there was a marked difference in her appearance. She sat in a chair beside her bed, patiently waiting for me. Knowing she could not see clearly anymore, I announced myself as I walked through the room, and she slowly
got to her feet in order to give me a proper hug.
As we sat together, catching up on news about family and friends, I felt myself in that
kitchen once again. She was saddened by the death of my childhood friend and
concerned for her mother, but she didn’t question why one person must die in her sixties while another lives into her
We laughed together about growing old and having senior moments.
I reminded her of the time when, after hours of talking, she said, “Now I want you to tell me the truth about
something. Have I said anything strange today?” I had teased her by responding, “No stranger than you’ve ever said.” I reassured her that as long as she could ask the question, she was perfectly fine. In truth, I was honored that she trusted me enough to ask. We
talked until dinnertime, and I promised to return the next day, as there was so much more we wanted to share with one another. In my last phone call to her two years later, I heard joy in her voice, perhaps because
she sensed that she would be “going home” a month later.
When I returned from that visit to Virginia,
I called my ninety-three-year-old uncle in Florida. He had played nine holes
of golf that week (although he no longer bothered to count strokes) and had learned more about the computer he recently bought. Several months before, he had called me, saying, “I have two questions for you. I’m thinking about getting a computer.
Am I smart enough and am I too old?” I answered honestly. He bought the computer, and we began emailing one another.
On my last visit to his home in Florida,
we discussed a magazine article I had written about aging. I can still see the
sincere look on his face when he said, “I know what you mean. I don’t
My uncle said he was ready whenever the
Lord was ready—that he was waiting for the time he could join his wife and family and old friends on the other side. In the meantime, he intended to live each day fully. He did just that until the day he died at almost ninety-five years of age.
My friend's mother, my aunt and my uncle
had mastered the art of waiting. They were content; their trust in God complete.
It is not the waiting that matters, it
is the quality of the waiting.