A week ago Sunday afternoon my cousin called.
She called to tell us that my sweet Aunt Margaret had just died that afternoon in a Houston hospital of injuries sustained in a car accident that happened between church and the cafeteria earlier in the day. Her beloved care-giver was driving when a young man driving an ice truck misjudged the clearness of the intersection and hit on Margaret's side of the car.
She was 91. Having survived many health issues and numerous surgeries including a heart triple by-pass, being taken in such an abrupt and difficult way, after all she had gone through, was quite unexpected. Her loss is painful to her family and friends, but her life was one that touched all of us with love, sweetness and a gentle spirit.
She modeled for all of us a deep dependence on God. She was one of those rare individuals whose life was characterized by a kindness and a genuine inner contentment that superseded even the severest circumstances. Her quiet trust in God was an anchor for her husband, her three daughters, her grandchildren and her extended family. I cannot imagine my life without her strong influence - always tangible but unassuming. She modeled love of God and family, excellence in living and impeccable integrity.
My cousin wrote, “At the age of six, Margaret went to live with her aunt and uncle, a childless couple who deeply longed for children and asked her parents if they could keep one of their seven children for a school year. For the rest of her childhood, Margaret spent school years with her aunt and uncle and summers with her own family in whatever part of the oil-patch her Dad was working at the time. Her sweet nature was such that she always knew both families loved her and she accepted the arrangement of the adults without objection.”
These events and the earthly loss of someone so dear and part of your life, brings into laser focus several things: how important relationships are, especially as more and more of those you love are now in heaven; how brief life really is compared to eternity; and how the questions must be asked while the person is still alive who knows and lived the stories. Sometimes in the living we don’t reflect on what really happened until it is too late.
Margaret was my last living relative from my parents' generation. Now, there is no one left who can answer my questions about the family in the past. Maybe this is why in the early chapters of Deuteronomy and Joshua the children of Israel were commanded to tell the stories – the stories of God’s calling and deliverance and purposes. Tell it to your children and to their children and to their children--on and on and on--so the stories would not be forgotten.
My sweet aunt will not be forgotten, but oh, how I wish I had asked her more questions.