Movin’ Miss Daisy

by | May 24, 2004 | Blessing

My mother, “Miss Daisy,” is in her 92nd year of life. I have just returned from a visit with her, filled with both sadness and joy.

In the past few years, she has moved out of her home of 52 years into an apartment. From the apartment, she moved to an assisted living residence. Then to the hospital for a few weeks, and now to a supervised nursing facility.

Miss Daisy has lived in Anderson, S.C. for 92 years. My brother, in Charlotte, N.C. has carried the burden for her care, since I live in Fairfax, VA, 525 miles away.

My brother and I have always been very close, and we talk daily over the phone about Mother’s condition.

There was such a sadness when we had to move her own furniture from assisted living into storage. In the back of our minds was that the nursing home would be her last home. So the furniture was moved into storage along with the furniture from her old home.

It seems that life is a circle, where you spend many years, building, saving and acquiring possessions and then, as you close the circle, you begin to surrender all you have acquired.

We come into this life with nothing in the way of possessions, and we leave the same way. But my mother, and my late father, always instilled in me the value of owning your own home, of owning property, of saving.

When I walked into the nursing home, I found mother in her wheel chair. She looked up when she saw me and said, “Am I dreaming? Is it really you?” I had not seen her in over a year, since my own heart attack. Mother said to me, “I didn’t know if I would ever see you again!”

But then the sadness passed and she was filled with joy that the Lord had brought us together, at least one more time.

Then her Southern hospitality took over, and she said, “I feel bad that I can’t cook for you.” Then she called the nurse to see if they would bring me food. You would have thought she was back in her own home, entertaining guests.

As we talked, she became more and more responsive. We laughed and teased and remembered old times, and the brightness came back into her eyes.

Then a look of sadness came over her, and I knew what she was thinking. I said, “You still miss my Dad, don’t you?” She nodded, “yes.” Then she said, “We’ll all be together again, before very long.” And I knew she was seeing a vision of the family, reunited once again, up in heaven. I said to her, “Are you thinking about going to heaven?” And she replied, “Yep! Already got my ticket, and it’s all paid for.” She was referring to the fact that Jesus, in his work on the Cross, had paid for her “ticket.”

But mother never remained sad for very long, her faith was too strong, like a rock, and it had taken her through 92 years of heartache and joy. And she said, “The Lord let us have this time together,” and she said it with triumph, as though the Lord Jesus had arranged this trip just for her—and for me. And the truth is, that is just exactly what happened.

When the visit was over, I walked back to my truck and wept. I cried for me, as well as for her. Then I rode back through town, visiting the old houses I had lived in, and the farm where I was born. I rode by the First Baptist Church, where I was baptized in 1943, and where I had first heard the call to ordained ministry when I was 12.

Memories flooded back. I remember the pastor who baptized me, Dr. F.C. McConnell, who rode around town in a horse and buggy. I don’t remember any sermons, but I remember the people who touched my life, especially the Sunday School teachers. I do remember one preacher, named Homer Rhodeheaver, who played a trombone and used to minister with Billy Sunday.

Most of all, I remember my mother, who read me Bible stories until I could read for myself. I remember her prayers for me, and she still prays for me, “Mornin’, noon and night.” Her prayers showed me the reality of God. She has always said, “He knows me and I know Him. He talks to me and I talk to Him.”

This is a faith as simple as a child, and as solid as a rock. It will take you through all the hard times.

In the last minutes of our visit, I told mother that my truck had blown a tire, and I had to buy a new one. She said, “I’ll buy you some new tires. I don’t want you riding on the old ones.” I jokingly replied, “That’s ok, mother, I’m rich!” And she said, “You’re only rich in the Lord!” She knows pastors are seldom “rich” in money. Then I joked again, “Yes, but I have an easy job, I only work one day a week (Sunday),” and she laughed.

In those minutes, our hearts touched, and it was old times again. As we laughed and talked, deep, unspoken things passed between us. She drew strength from me, and I drew strength from her.

I read her scripture, gave her Holy Communion, prayed for her, then it was time to go. She said, “Will I see you again?” Then she paused and answered her own question, “No.”

I wheeled her back to her room but, by then, she had retreated back into herself, and there was no response.

Blessings in Jesus,

Father Harold Hammond

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Movin’ Miss Daisy