Yesterday, I had one of those divinely arranged appointments God blesses us with from time to time. He brought a little lady named Ruby Mae Baker and I together for the span of about ten minutes.
*'Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.'
Sometimes, when I make my milk runs to South Carolina, I am able to fit a hike in with my kids. So this particular day, although we’d gotten off to a much later start than originally planned (as we sometimes do), my youngest three and I were just able to get into Kings Mountain with time for a nice climb before their trails closed. After the enjoyable drive up that way, all four of us were ready to get out and stretch our legs a bit. As we pulled up, there weren’t many other folks around so we couldn’t miss the two sharing the parking lot with us. A rather heavy man and a quite elderly lady with a walker slowly got out of their car, and distance quickly came between them. I noted that he left her to get along by herself, as he shuffled up to the visitor’s center.
The girls and I had to stop at the ladies room before tackling the mountain. So we headed in that direction; however we quickly found the lady and her walker barred us from further entry. She turned to look back at me and I reassuringly smiled and told her to take her time.
“I’m going to need some help, “ she replied. There was no apology or embarrassment in her voice or behavior, and just like that we went from strangers to family. I stepped toward her, absolutely honored.
“Of course,” I assured her as I followed her into the large handicapped stall. We chatted matter-of-factly as we shared our names and where we were from and took care of business. That was her son Philip, waiting outside. Her family had recently purchased the pretty earth-toned outfit she was wearing. Her back was really hurting her these days, and she’d been to the doctor but it wasn’t any better so she was going back again. She was bright as a bird, despite the wear years will take upon skin and bones.
When we finished up in there, we came out and I washed our hands together, squirting out the soap and running warm water over them. Where does all that purple under the skin come from, I wondered. Not wanting to use the noisy hand-dryer, I quickly pulled a wad of toilet paper from the stall and used it to dry our hands. I watched her as she watched me, and made sure to dry them thoroughly so that there would be no slipping from the silver handrails of her walker.
“I’m from Kings Mountain," she said in her soft southern voice, “and I’m…. 94 years old.”
“You’re beautiful,” I replied with simple sincerity, “I hope I’m as beautiful as you are when I’m 94.” She was too. We chatted a bit more before leaving the room and rejoining our families, parting in relaxed friendship. The deep joy that comes to reside in our hearts when we live out the graciousness of serving one another and humbly being served was ours. I didn’t think to do so then, but wish I had.
This kiss is for you, Ruby Mae. Thank you.