Rosie, the housekeeper at the assisted living community where my mother lived, is a lucky woman. Though she is probably 45 years old, she has a living grandmother. Her grandmother lives alone, entertains her family with complete meals that she cooks, does all her own housework—and will soon celebrate her 100th birthday.
Years ago, Sarah, for that is her name, was taking much medication under doctor’s orders. She was not doing well. Family members who lived in Chicago intervened. They came to Sarah’s town of Oxford, Mississippi, whisked her away to Chicago, and there took her to a new doctor, a doctor they trusted. This doctor did a very surprising thing: He took Sarah off all her medication. And, now, years later, she takes no pills at all. If you want to try this, be sure to go to a doctor who agrees with you. Sarah did. Tinkering with needed medication is a good way to an early grave. But the Chicagoan doctor had found the secret for Sarah, and Sarah’s very large family—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as great-great—are very grateful. Rosie tells me that her grandmother now insists, as she always has, in doing all her work. “Don’t take my work away from me!” she exclaims. Somehow Sarah knows that it is the work that is keeping her going. She is not willing to give up being a part of this world. Rosie says, “Now, she is slow (emphasizing “slow”). “It might take her a day to polish a coffee table. But it gets done. And she does a good job,” Rosie explains. When Sarah has her family over for meals, she even insists on cleaning up after them, doing her own dishes. Soon, by the time you read this, Sarah’s extended family will have descended on Oxford for the third straight year—to celebrate a birthday for Sarah. They came when she was 98, then 99, and this will be the 100th. Sarah says that she doesn’t know how long she has, and she wants to see everybody. Rosie has the good genes of her grandmother. Though clearly middle-aged, she has absolutely no lines in her face. And Rosie has a radiance that, to me, speaks of a vibrant prayer life. The family of Sarah is blessed to have her into her very old age. We are warmed by this example of a hard-working woman who just won’t give up. Sarah doesn’t need her family’s help with her work. She just needs time. And her God.