I’ll call her Ginny, just because it’s one of my favorite names and she was one of my favorite people. Still is, in fact. I have such fond memories of our visits. She’s one of those I’m most looking forward to seeing again in heaven. And she’s someone I hope I’ll have sense enough to emulate should the Lord leave me here well into old age, in a position to make friends or scare them away.
The first thing I learned about Ginny was that she was blind. In her early 90s by the time I met her, she’d lost her sight to macular degeneration when she was in her 50s. Yet she was not at all bitter about it, and did not even seem to be sad about it. I’ve often wondered why. It’s possible that after almost half a lifetime of darkness, she was simply used to it. Or maybe her attitude toward death and heaven – her acceptance of the first and longing for the second – kept her focused on the glories that would eventually fill her eyes for all eternity.
Over the years, I’ve known a fair number of people with no interest in books. Ginny was not one of them; she had always been a passionate reader. And she didn’t let being blind stop her. She “read” books constantly on tape. She was a regular and avid customer of the Wisconsin Talking Books and Braille Library, a wonderful and apparently free service providing the blind with an easy-to-use tape player and a steady stream of recordings to delight the heart and mind.
I found it interesting that Ginny never asked for a specific genre of book, never even designated fiction or non-fiction as her preference. She was interested in absolutely everything, and her ever-changing library of tapes proved it. She entertained some of the most bizarre biographies I’ve ever heard of. Found fascinating stories about everything from animals to arctic exploration. Listened to instructional books on subjects as far-flung as planting a garden, quilting and managing your investments – things she had no practical use for at all. And she rarely met a novel she didn’t like.
Most important, Ginny loved to have a visitor read the Bible to her. Loved it, too, when that visitor had time to discuss some aspect of God and His love and His justice. She didn’t claim encyclopedic knowledge of scripture. In fact, she was more likely to raise questions than answer them. She was immensely curious about everything to do with the Lord and His gospel. Which meant that, if you shared her interest, a visit with her would always be stimulating, enlightening, and just plain lovely.
I normally visited Ginny twice a week, on Monday and again on Friday. And she always welcomed me with open arms. Except for the last time I saw her. That fateful day, her stomach was upset, she said, and she’d just as soon put off our visit until she felt better. It was a Friday afternoon, and I remember being disappointed, and saying a quick prayer for her prompt recovery—a selfish prayer, no doubt, because I so thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
When I arrived at the nursing home the following Monday, I learned that Ginny had been hospitalized Friday night and had died on Sunday afternoon. Her daughters later told me that she had been in good spirits throughout this last phase of her life, joking with everyone from the hovering nurses and to the many family members who had gathered in response to an urgent summons from the hospital.
To this day, I’m sorry for Ginny’s family, for the nursing-home aides and nurses who loved her, and for myself. She was truly one in a million, five-star, solid gold and I'm far from alone in saying that I really miss her. It’s comforting, however, to think of her safely home in heaven, her vision restored and no doubt better than ever, taking in sights so glorious that we can’t even begin to imagine them in this fallen world.
I just wish she'd had a chance to promise me, before she left, "I'll see you there."