My aunt died earlier this month. Her passing led my cousins and me into a new phase of life. She was the last of our parents’ generation, and in one final heartbeat we became the seniors in our family.
The local paper ran a story about her: “A Life Remembered.” The story pointed out that she had been a pro-life activist and a dedicated wife, mother, and homemaker. But mostly, it remembered her as a woman of strong faith. “She was a very, very, religious person,” one of my cousins was quoted. “She prayed for everybody.”
And pray, she did. My aunt was a devout Catholic, and she prayed her Catholic prayers every day. She also spent endless hours on her knees praying for each of our family members, her friends, and the world. Yes, my aunt was a pray-er, so much so that my uncle often had to remind her that it was time to stop praying and come to bed.
My aunt and I disagreed sometimes. I am and always have been Protestant, and we disagreed about whose way was the “right” way. When she said the word “Presbyterian” it sounded like this, “Prezzzz-buh-TEAR-ian!” One thing I learned from my aunt was tolerance. I learned to have tolerance for Christians who didn’t believe exactly the same way that I did, and I learned to respect my aunt for her devotion to her Catholic faith. She was unbending in some of her beliefs, and I was unbending in mine, still we loved one another, and we got along.
One thing we did agree about was Jesus. She wore a lapel button with His image on her coat, and we both wore Jesus in our hearts. When we talked about the Bible, we had the same opinions about many things, most importantly that Jesus died for our sins; as a result of His sacrifice, salvation is available to all mankind; and one day He is coming back.
As her health began to fail, my aunt and I talked often about Jesus. She believed with all of her heart that Jesus is coming back soon. Our family heard her say, more often than we wanted, “People had better shape up and fly right!” She watched the news every night, and she worried about the state of the world. “Don’t people know?” she asked. “Don’t they care about God?”
My aunt cared about people, and she cared even more about God. Now she is with Him, and my generation is left to carry on and to remind the children and grandchildren to embrace their Christian faith.
David said it best in Psalm 71:18:
”Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
Rest in peace, Aunt Ruth. I miss you.
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