Tomorrow is Senior Citizens Day. I wish I could throw a big party for all the senior ladies who helped me become the woman I am today.
But, I would like to recognize the two women who made the biggest impression on my life.
First, I want to thank my Great Aunt Ida who was more like a mom to me. She taught me what it means to be loved unconditionally. She accepted me and opened her home to me when I was 16. Aunt Ida was a godly woman. She taught me morals, values and to believe in the power of prayer.
I never expected to receive this blessing a second time. But when I set to start a seniors program at my church, I received a tremendous gift again.
One day, while reading 1 Timothy 5, the following words moved my heart: honor widows, left alone, not less than 60 years old, and assist them (NRSV). This led me to start an Adopt-a-Grandparent program at my church.
When I asked Anne, one of the senior widows, why she didn’t sign up, she said: “because I am not a grandparent; I’m not even a mother.” So I changed the name to Adopt-a-Senior, and the following week she signed up.
We started going to Bible study and a book club together. Then she would let me take her to her medical appointments. We would go to lunch after morning Bible study. My husband and son took care of her lawn and sidewalks in the winter.
She was helping me
Anne thought I was helping her, but she was helping me. She would listen to me without judging. She was my confidant. She was like a mom, grandmother and friend all wrapped in one. And Anne thought of me as the daughter she never had.
She brought joy to my life, and I always looked forward to spending time with her. Anne welcomed me into her home and her heart. My dog, Maggie, and I visited during the week, and Anne and I would sit and chat or not. Sometimes, we even fell asleep in the recliners. There was never an awkward, uncomfortable silence. We were comfortable around one another.
One Easter Sunday, she asked me to take her home after church because she didn’t want to come for dinner. So I took her Easter dinner later that evening, and she was fine.
The next morning when I stopped to check on her, she was sitting on her bed unable to move. Anne had a massive stroke, so she moved to a nursing home because she was unable to speak or walk. But she didn’t lose her facial expressions. She lit up and grinned from ear to ear every time I visited her.
Anne is no longer here for our visits, but she will always be with me in my heart and mind. She left me with countless memories of her faithfulness, generosity and kindness.
To all senior women, thank you for sharing your wisdom at Bible studies and for sharing your life lessons. Thank you for teaching us how to quilt, knit and cook. Thank you for showing us how to love others and God.
We are the women we are today because of you!
Anissa Canova, Gouldsboro, Penn., serves on the Women of the ELCA executive board. She is a member of Grace Lutheran Church, Gouldsboro. Photos are of Anissa and her great aunt Ida and Anissa, her son and Anne.