My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Saying Goodbye to Mrs. R.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my beloved Mrs. R.

In the last few months, an ulcerated leg, which she was able to recover from last year, flared up on the other leg—and this time, nothing could be done, and hospice was called in.  Her body was just too tired to win this battle—and so a few weeks ago, I knew my moments with her were numbered.  I broke my own rules and took this photo about two weeks before she died, when she could no longer sit in her wheelchair.  As I sang to her, she still sometimes opened her eyes—and always smiled at me, as she had so many times before.

I first met Mrs. R. four years ago—I wrote about it here.  She had a stroke shortly after I met her, and—wanting to do something to enrich her life—I began stopping by nearly every week, hymnal in hand.  Mary, her main caregiver and daughter-in-law, would make me some coffee, and often Sam and Mary and I would sit around their kitchen table and talk.  But mostly I came to sing…

Although her stroke had left her unable to talk very much, Mrs. R. would smile and smile at me as I sang, and her sterling silver blue eyes would sparkle.  Sometimes she would be able to sing along with me—“Some glad morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away…” 

We always ended with “Jesus Loves Me,” and any family members who happened to be in the house would join in and sing it with us. 

Sam’s wife Mary (and four daughters of Mrs. R. who sometimes took turns caring for her in their respective homes) thanked me regularly for coming over, and told me how much my visits meant to their mother.  But it was I who was being blessed!  The more I sang to Mrs. R., the more I loved her—and the more time I spent with her, the more she became like the sweet elderly mother I never had. 

A few days before she died, I came to sing.  By this time, Mrs. R. had become mostly unresponsive, but I sang anyway...  Several times she opened her eyes and I saw the old smile.  As always, I ended with “Jesus Loves Me”—and her eyes opened, and for a few lines, she was able to join me one last time as I sang it!...  That was the last time I saw her alive.

So, as I write this, yesterday was her funeral.  I’d never been to an Amish funeral, and that’s what I started out to write about in this post...  But I think I’ll save the description of my first Amish funeral for another day, and let this post be about a sweet lady I came to care about greatly, and her large extended family, who became like family to me.

I plan to return to this living room at her son Sam’s house regularly, because Sam and Mary have become dear friends, as have many other members of Mrs. R.’s extended family.  So in that way, she will keep on giving to me, far in excess of what small comfort I could give to her.  I will never forget her.

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