Tomorrow I am going to the funeral of another elderly friend. In fact she used to be a neighbour of my friend who passed away recently. In this particular community there were quite a few elderly women that I became friends with. I got to know them through a neighbourhood Bible study. I was lonely and had few friends. In the midst of a dark, northern winter I phoned up this elderly woman, whose funeral is tomorrow, and joined her Bible study. It was one of those Friendship Bible Coffee ones - the kind where you fill in the blanks and your brain turns to mush in the process. The kind I really don't like. That in itself would have been enough to discourage me from going had I not grown to love the women who attended.
Most of the women were Catholic and the woman who was leading it was trying to convert them in an underhanded kind of way. She meant well. She had no idea the other women were onto her. But they had all lived in the same community since their children were small and now in their 70s and 80s, they were more than willing to let things go and simply enjoy each others' company. They didn't hold it against her that she wanted to preach the gospel to them that they had already embraced.
One of the things that I often noticed when I listened to these women visit, was they were free to discuss their grown children's lives without fear that the choices their kids were making was going to reflect badly on themselves. There was no sense that they judged one another for the outcomes. It was foreign thinking to me, but I thirsted for the freedom they had. I was in the midst of parenting kids under the age of 10 back then and I simply couldn't relate to these discussions. Often I wondered how old a mother had to get before she made that distinction between her kids, their choices and herself.
One of the women was so funny....In her 80's she had fallen and broken her arm. It needed to be in a cast for 6 weeks. She told us that when she got the cast off she looked at her shrunken, droopy upper arm and said with some alarm to her husband, "My arm looks like that of an old woman!" Oh, how we laughed! This woman must be 90 by now but something tells me when I see her tomorrow she will still be young at heart.