Russ sang beautiful songs of praise for Wilma, adding rich guitar notes as they worshiped God together. But as I pressed the doorbell for my visit, I had brought nothing. I wanted to encourage and comfort, but afraid my words would be flat in a house of grief.
If you've followed my posts on our dear Wilma, you know that her days are short. But there was no grief as I made my way back to her bedroom.
There I found Wilma propped up in bed, hooked up to an oxygen tube but bright-eyed and alert.
I gave her a delicate hug and sat down beside the bed. “We have to pray for her,” Wilma told me. She nodded her head at Kathi, her housemate and caretaker. “She has to go to the doctor to see about her bad back. We have to pray that he can get that fixed for her.”
And so my visit started with both of us holding hands and praying for Kathi.
‘Whew,” said Wilma in her soft southern drawl. “Wasn’t that good?”
She reached out and took my hand. I had held the hand of elderly saint before, but none had ever stroked my hand and then exclaimed, “You have beautiful hands! Look at those long fingers.”
She looked at her own hand. “Look at all these wrinkles,” she said. “That picture your sister got of my hands was something, wasn’t it?”
My sister, a professional photographer, had captured a classic photo a few years ago of Wilma’s hands laid over an open Bible. The crinkled pages and the furrows of her hands had formed a rich message of commitment and determination.
I told her that her willingness to be photographed was a gift to many people.
“It takes a long time to get your hands that wrinkled,” she told me.
“That’s the point,” I said. “Those wrinkles speak of the commitment to the Word that you have. It takes a long time to show that kind of commitment.”
I could see she was tiring. I prayed for her strength, for God’s comfort, for her caretakers, for joy in the coming days. She sighed contentedly as I gave her a goodbye hug.
Wilma is sailing with joy and peace into God’s presence, looking forward to her graduation. Her sweet love for her Savior and her love for others had soaked me with joy. I had gone to bring cheer to Wilma. But she had a final gift for me instead.