Something sad happened in our neighborhood recently. An elderly woman died. That's not the saddest part, though. The woman, Charlotte, died alone.
I didn't know Charlotte well, she lived a street down from me. I knew she didn't drive herself, she didn't have children and wasn't married, and I also knew a family member came to take her shopping once a week. But that's all I'd ever bothered to know. After her death I found out that the weekly shopping trip was just about all the contact she had with anyone, besides the interaction from her neighbors as they stopped to chat a moment while out walking their dogs.
I admit that Charlotte crosses my mind much more now than she did when she lived in my neighborhood. And I am ashamed.
Charlotte's death affected me, and I think it should affect us all. No beautiful girl should have to spend so much time on her own, whether she chose to have ten children or none, whether she was married, widowed, divorced, or had never found the right guy to grow old with. Was Charlotte often lonely? I don't know, I never asked her. Did she hope someone would drop by to listen to her life's stories? Probably. Did she ever hear a funny joke and wish there was someone there she could share it with? Surely.
Now, here's a very different story. Mary is about the same age as Charlotte was. But Mary lives with her grown son and his wife, Sally. Sally is blessed to be able to work from home, and she spends most of her day with Mary. This summer, Aubrianah and I got to spend an afternoon with them both.
Sally wrote 'Growing things' on her beauty board, and let me tell you she is good at it! She has a beautiful garden, and Mary loves to sit on the porch and look out at Sally's garden. But I have to say that the thing that I think makes Sally most beautiful is the companionship she offers.
Aubrianah and I sat and listened to Mary's stories, she's led an interesting life and we had fun looking at her scrapbook. But what struck me is that even though I am absolutely sure Sally has heard those stories a hundred times, she did not seem bored. She listened intently, she asked questions, she loved Mary by listening to her.
Mary calls Sally 'Angel'...because to her, Sally is one. Mary will not be alone at the end of her life, Sally will make sure of it. Mary is leading a blessed life, and Sally is one of those blessings. But Sally isn't doing it to get some reward, she knows that the companionship she gets from Mary is a blessing for HER, too!
Stop your busy life for a moment and look around you. Do you see a beautiful girl who is lonely? Do you see a beautiful girl with no children, or children who are gone, or who just don't show up? How about that elderly neighbor who sits on her porch, hoping someone will come by and ask her how she is? How about that senior saint at your church? Does she look forward to getting a ride to church on Sunday morning because that's the only outing she has all week?
Mary has great stories of a blessed life. Charlotte probably had great stories, too. I wish I had taken the time to listen to them.