I remember waiting nervously for her son to pick me up to meet her for the first time. It was the family's gathering, (our first official date) to celebrate her and her husband's 50th wedding anniversary. We liked each other, almost immediately. I waited for her to ask me the questions. The first one was, "Honey, do you go to church?" I was a bit flustered and embarrassed and told her I was waiting for the right church to come along, that I'd be comfortable attending. She replied, "Don't worry, honey. I like my church. Would you like to come along. I'll pick you up, this Sunday." I could not refuse... So I waited for her the next Sunday and she drove me there.
A year later, I was the driver, because she couldn't remember how to get anywhere, on her own anymore. She would wait on her sunny back porch for me or her son to pick her up. She would have her dress and stockings on. Ready and waiting, she carried a blue pocketbook that only held a tube of lipstick, a few tissues, a wallet that only had a few dollars in it, and was emptied of anything of real value that she could not remember was in there, in the first place. I would sometimes wait for her to remember where she put her pocketbook. Sometimes I waited, because she wanted to double-check to see in the mirror if she looked okay or had remembered to put her lipstick on. I didn't mind waiting patiently, since it would upset her if she didn't remember to do so. We did this waiting for each other, on Sundays, taking her out to church, to see her brother in the nursing facility, to eat lunch, to go to a movie or to come home and wait, until her husband got us cocktails and, sometimes, dinner. (She loved to wait for "tea-time" at 5:00 p.m., to have her Scotch and Soda.) We'd play cards while we waited, because she could not remember what she wanted to say, earlier. During the week, she'd wait for me to take her to the place where there was respite care. She'd tell her husband, indignantly, "I don't need to go to a baby-sitter!" After she arrived, she would see the people waiting to get up to greet her and she forgot that she did not want to come. Later, each day, she'd wait for me to pick her up and bring her home, "to Jimmy" (her husband.)
Our time together in this routine of waiting to spend time together was precious, enjoyable and lasted for 12 years, until her husband died and she went to live in the place where her late brother lived. She would wait for us to visit, and then, forget who we were and act pleasantly surprised that we were interested in visiting her.
Tonight, and for the past month, we've been waiting for God to take her, and wondering if she knows what is happening. The waiting is the hardest part.