Aunt Helen

I’m in Michigan. I was born here, so I come back to visit family often. Great Aunt Helen is a big part of this trip. She is 102 years young. She lived by herself in Erie until January. The story goes that her mail carrier noticed she had not gotten her mail from the day before. She called the police, and they found Aunt Helen on the floor. I’m fuzzy on the details, but she spent a few days in the hospital, a few weeks in rehab, and now a few months in an assisted living facility in Detroit, closer to family.

My Aunt Ellie, who lives close by, and I slip into Helen’s room. She’s delighted to see us, and we savor the fresh bread Ellie brought. She piles on the butter and announces she goes through a pound of butter a week and refuses to drink water. My arteries clog at the thought, but who can argue with a 102-year-old about her diet? Ellie’s English Setter steps in for a pat on the head and a few bites of Aunt Helen’s dinner before she makes herself comfortable on Helen’s bed. The stroke has not affected Helen’s speech, or her humor. We joke and laugh. I reminisce about how she beat the socks off me in Scrabble and Bananagrams two summers ago. We pray. My eyes water. We hug goodbye.

The next day Ellie and Uncle Tim and I visit Helen again. Tim visits most days. It’s good to see her again. She makes us laugh. She inspires us. Helen says she can’t hear or see well, but she reads the text messages that pop up on my phone as I show her pictures. A nurse comes in to check on her. She refuses pain medicine; she says she has no pain. Aunt Helen has never taken medicine. We FaceTime with her neighbor, Roy Walker, from Erie. She’s delighted to see him and makes him blush with compliments. He and a couple others helped her live by herself until 102, and she sings his praises. Rightly so. He tells her how good she looks. Now it’s her turn to blush.

Tim, Ellie, and I must leave. She says she doesn’t need us to do anything. After hugs, selfies, pictures, videos, and a long goodbye, we slip out. When I step back inside to retrieve my jacket, I notice she has climbed into the bed for a nap. She didn’t need our help, but we sure need her. What an inspiration. What a blessing. What a JOY. I thank God for Aunt Helen. I thank him for my many blessings.

Who inspires you? Do you know any Centenarians? Please comment below.