Here is Part 2 of Days With Aunt Margie just as I promised.
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.- Thomas Campell
At the lake, Darleen and I always managed to get the worst sunburn possible. Poor Margie probably owned at least one bottle of every type of sunscreen ever manufactured; she was always looking for something to keep us sunburn-free. But there was no such product. We’d be as red as little lobsters on the grill and feel every bit as hot! Blisters would eventually follow. I’m pretty sure that during the day, as we were in the cool water, we could do our best to ignore the painful condition. Yet, at bedtime, the ability to sleep would forsake us and we would whine and complain intensely. Poor Margie and Clarence!! They invited us to the lake for that?!
I’m still awed by my Aunt Margie. She had as much energy as Darleen and me when we were kids and she was forty. But even more amazing was the way that she always loved us, cared for us, and enjoyed us — even when we weren’t enjoyable! I can’t think of even one time when she made me feel like I was an inconvenience, even on those sleepless, sunburned nights.
Do you suppose that Margie taught me something about God? He loves His people, even when we’re whining and complaining. He wants to spend time with us, even when we’re not that fun to be with! It is the desire of His heart to enjoy us, just as Margie enjoyed us.
When my grandparents were old, I didn’t really want to go visit. I suppose I felt that it would be boring. It was my Aunt Margie who clearly taught me the importance of relationships. “They won’t be there forever. You’ve got to enjoy them while you can,“ she said.
Today, I sit here, shocked by the news that Aunt Margie is no longer a phone call away. I suppose that we all believed that she’d live forever. Yet, Margie was one all too familiar with the brevity of life. She had sat at the bedside of so many of her loved ones: her father, mother, brothers, her dear husband, and then, her beloved niece…her best friend, my mother. The words that she’d spoken to me more than twenty years ago were not spoken lightly. She knew that we need to enjoy those we love while we can.
I am, in spite of loss, awed by the kindness of the Lord today. He so graciously chose to grant Margie’s one humble request. Margie had watched so many suffer. As cancer ravished the bodies of so many of those she loved, she painstakingly sat by them, loved them, spoke kind and encouraging words to them; she held their hands and changed their diapers and patiently fed each spoonful of food. I know this because she put her own wants and cares to the side to avail herself for my mom in those last many weeks. Never complaining, Margie lovingly cared for my mother, while silently mourning her impending loss of niece and friend. And Margie’s service did not end with family. So often, as we’d speak on the phone, she would be making a meal for a friend or neighbor, or planning to help at the hospice thrift store. After Margie’s uninhibited demonstration of sacrificial love and service to those around her, I understand Christ’s sacrifice to us a bit more.
I believe that sometimes illness is God’s way of drawing a person closer to Himself; we are faced with our mortality; thus, we look to Our Creator in a whole new way, knowing that life is in the hands of the One Who made us. Watching people suffer could have made Margie hardened. Instead, she humbly accepted death as part of life, completely understanding that a Sovereign God is in control. Margie walked through life, knowing full-well that the day would come when her life here on earth would come to a close and she would stand before her God in heaven. She accepted that fact, and then obediently walked through life in service to Him. Her only request was that the Lord not allow her to suffer. I believe that God joyfully answered this one small request. Watching others suffer was the worse kind of suffering for Margie. To be taken from this world in a peaceful sleep was fitting.
Darleen and I eventually grew up and moved away. Our days on the lake were no more and the house at the lake was sold. I miss the time spent at the lake and I cherish every memory created there. More importantly, I’m grateful for someone who cherished time with us in the way that Margie always did. I am forever grateful that she realized that we would one day grow up and leave; I’m grateful that she enjoyed us while we were there. I’m indebted to her for the life lesson that she taught me, both in word and deed. The Lord gave me a special treasure in my Aunt Margie; the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.