Sunday, February 26, 2012


Aunt Betty's fingers move gracefully across the keys of the piano as my mom, my dad, my grandma "Abuela" and I huddle around the shared hymnal. I've requested one last "hymn-sing" with my dad's sister Betty before she leaves in the morning to go home to Missouri. She's been visiting us for a week, and it's been so refreshing to have her cheerful presence here. I love to hear her play the piano, all the old hymns that you rarely hear anymore.

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear...

Holding the hymnal with my left hand, I run the index finger of my right hand under the words for Abuela to follow along. I can tell she is fading. It's the end of the day and she's almost ready for bed. Abuela taps her foot slightly and nods her head a bit with the tempo. But singing seems to be too much of an effort.

...We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair...

What an appropriate song for Abuela. She has plenty of reason to complain. Several strokes that have left her right side weakened and forced her to become left-handed. A fading memory and a brain that gets muddled and confused with everyday details of life. Recent surgery to put two pins into the broken bones of her right hip, leaving her unable to stand or get up out of bed on her own. Yet she never complains. She always downplays her pain or difficulties with, "It's not so bad," or "I'm just plugging along."

But Christ will soon appear, to catch His bride away, All tears forever over, in God's eternal day.

Abuela's warming up to the song now a bit. I'm singing loudly in her ear, squeezing her hand occasionally and smiling at her encouragingly.

"You can sing with us, Abuela. You know this part!" I say quickly before we begin the chorus.

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus

Her lips are moving now. I lean in close to hear her voice.

Life's trials will seem so small, when we see Christ

She's even singing the alto part! My mom and I smile at each other as we hear her. I want to record this moment firmly in my memory.

One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase

A hidden blessing of Abuela's short-term memory loss is that she doesn't remember that she fell and broke her hip last month. She doesn't remember her trip in the ambulance, or her stay in the hospital, or the pain after the surgery. She's cheerfully unaware of any reason to be unhappy. Those painful memories have been erased.

What a beautiful picture of the ultimate erasing of sorrows when we get to heaven. I can just imagine my sweet Abuela, who has served her Jesus whole-heartedly, uncomplainingly her whole life, gazing at her Savior face-to-face at last, joined by her faithful husband who went ahead of her several years ago, and others of her family who are already there. Why worry about minor things like broken bones and weakened limbs on this earth? When we reach the beginning of forever, I don't think we'll even remember those things anymore. They won't be important.

So bravely run the race, till we see Christ.

The chorus ends and Aunt Betty does a final trill of notes on the piano. Abuela smiles.

"That's a great song, isn't it?" I ask. She nods. I feel so privileged to be sitting here next to my grandmother who has served the Lord for the past century. The words of the hymn say it so well. This is what she lives for. And this is what I want to live for. Because it IS worth it all. When we are living for Jesus, it's always worth it.