"I see to the necessary things now"

Over the weekend, I discovered a teaching on what it means to honor the elderly by Walter Wangerin - a writer, Lutheran minister, and University Professor from Valparaiso, Indiana. In this teaching, Pastor Wangerin shares the poignant story of his friend Melvin - a touching example of honoring through family caregiving:

"By the smell in the room I knew what Melvin was doing. He was cleaning the waste away of his mother. He was washing her and changing her diapers. My friend Melvin was keeping the commandment of God, honoring his mother. While he was doing it, he was singing, singing in the tongue of her childhood, in German softly. [Singing in German ] And then I understood something else, too. His mother was not in pain. His mother was in joy. She was also singing at the top of her lungs "Yaah, na na na nah!" and I have no doubt that the woman felt as beautiful as she did when she was a child running free in the fields with a yellow dress and with a ribbon in her hair."

Pastor Wangerin concludes his teaching with these words:

"When I am asked: How is the nation? What about the community? Will it last, Walt? Is it healthy? Then I think of Melvin, and I say the signs are good. When anyone of us with elders grant unto that elderly the honor of God so that God becomes the nexus between us and the older generation, then generation by generation we drop deep roots. The honor itself becomes the very stuff of our society. And yes, yes, we shall live long in the land that God has given us."

As I read Pastor Wangerin's story about Melvin and his mother, I remembered a book - Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch - that my mother gave to me nearly twenty years ago when it was first released. It is the story of a boy and his mother...and the song the mother sang to her son from the time he was a newborn - a song that expressed a love for her son that transcended time and circumstances. In the end, the roles are reversed, and the son not only sings this same song to his newborn daughter, but to his elderly mother , as he tenderly rocks her in her time of need.

"I'll love you forever

I'll like you for always,

As long as I'm living

my Mommy you'll be."

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone."
Psalm 71:9

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