While I was visiting my parents for mother’s day a few weekends ago, I got to attend the visitation of a lady who had finished her course here on earth after 97 years. Remarkably, my pastor mentioned on Sunday morning that she had been a member of my home church for 82 of those years.
I’ve known Nannie Mae all my life (yes, that’s her name). I don’t remember a time of not knowing who she was. She was a friend of my grandparents and one of the nicest ladies I can remember. Her husband, F. M. made it to heaven a little quicker than she did (again, that’s the name everyone called him), and I always remember seeing him smiling around the church. I remember asking my dad when I was much younger why her name wasn’t N.M. to be consistent with her husband. And though I’m sure her family will miss her, it’s hard not to be at least a little grateful for a life well-lived.
As with most funerals in a small town, it was a reunion of sorts with more people than I could count. I saw my seventh grade home room teacher and my great aunt and great uncle. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, I ran into friends my age that I hadn’t seen in years. Life takes us in many different directions, but it was great to look back on so many connections all in once place.
I drove away with my parents and commented on how interesting it was to see people who had known Nannie Mae and her family for decades–many of them for 50 or 60 years or more. It was remarkable to me that all of that history could be in one place at one time. Could most other people claim that?
I couldn’t help but wonder whether we’re missing out on that now. Our lives seem so transient–both in location and in activities–that longevity almost seems to be a thing of the past. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to the subject since Orlando seems to be a rather transient place to begin with, but this feels different than that. This feels more about valuing history and longevity in a way I haven’t noticed before.
Since I don’t see our way of living changing much back to “the way it used to be,” nor would I necessarily advocate for that, I wonder how we capture some of that history now. How do we prioritize the lasting over the fleeting? I’m not sure I have the answer to that yet. But at the end of my own 97 years, I hope to look back on similar, long relationships like I saw that night.