Her gait, today, sluggish. Every step, entailing, by the instant, more intentionality. “Left, right, left, right…” she murmured to herself. Nevertheless, at the most, at her best, even at her age, her stride was far sprightlier. And, at the least, never far from her awareness, her thankfulness, she could walk.
She did walk. Every day. Early. At the appearance of dawn’s light. To move about without being an obstruction and not to be obstructed. Especially by overzealous caregivers whose request to employ her walker, not something she desired, oft sounded to her more like a demand, “It is required!” Their insistence about that and so many other things provoked her, on occasion, to ponder the difference between “caregiver” and “caretaker.”
In hand her trusty cane (“My ‘can’ with an ‘e’ for ‘effort’!” she was wont to say), she stepped into the hallway.
Blessedly empty, save for one of the security guards making his morning rounds. Greeting him with a cheery, “Good day!” he answered with a smile and a respectful doff of his cap.
She continued on her way, as she did every day, wandering the corridors of her assisted living residence until her Fitbit vibrated, signaling her attainment of her daily step-goal.
(She always stressed, saying aloud, even when talking to herself, that wonderful word, “assisted.” For there was much she could do for herself. So many others, whose rooms she passed, could do less-to-little for themselves.)
Many were her blessings. Knowing that, honoring that, she was quick to give God thanks in her daily prayers. Still, no sooner had she uttered “Amen,” she felt the rise of her lament.
Following her walks, for hours, she sat at her window; waiting, watching for someone, a loved one to come to see her. To speak with her. To be with her.
Two years before, her husband, on the day before their 58th anniversary, died. Their families being the closest of friends, they had known and loved each other virtually all of their lives. He, a physician, revered by all in the town of their birth, at death, had left her well off for the remainder of her life. There was not one thing of the things of this world about which she need worry and not one thing of the things that she might desire, though modest her longings (save for her generosity for all causes, great or small), for which she was without the means to attain.
But their children, their three sons, presently, largely absent, surfaced mostly in the images of her memory.
When their sons did appear, never together, each, at a time (not, in her experience, really visiting, but, as she considered it, only passing through) would sit for a second, then pace about her room complaining about the other two. In their individually varied, though sadly similar invectives, each, in his tour de force, venting about the greed of the other two, grasping for more than their share of their father’s liberal bequests, viewed or rather ignored her as his silent audience of one.
And each, at the breathless dénouement of his diatribe, would depart as he had come, hastily, and with nary a fare-thee-well.
At the exodus of each, for some time and then some time longer, she, her hands folded into a tight, knuckle-bruising knot of soul-aggrieved aggravation, thinking of the Apostle’s wise word, would whisper to herself, “The love of money is the root of all evil, for the lust of which some greatly harm themselves.” Then adding, “Not only themselves, but others…all others.”
Endnote: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains (1 Timothy 6.10)