Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Ginny. We met almost nine years ago at the faith community I’m part of. I sensed almost immediately how special Ginny is. It’s not only that she’s very spiritual or that she’s generous, kind and thoughtful—it’s her way of walking through life, which really drew me to her. Very early on in our friendship, Ginny pulled me aside and said, “don’t ever forget, that I’m your ace in the hole” (a hidden resource reserved until needed—the expression comes from the game of poker where there’s a hidden card (hole card) and you’re really fortunate if it’s an ace). She said that to me with such sincerity that it brought tears to my eyes.
Five years ago, when Ginny’s husband, Dick, turned 80, he decided that he wanted to mark the milestone by jumping out of an airplane. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-minute decision. Dick was a Marine. He was an athlete. He was a strong guy. It’s a long, hard story, but the bottom line is that the day didn’t end the way they thought it “would have”. Dick left the airplane and life changed. He has been in a nursing home ever since he was released from the hospital, all those years ago.
I watched my brother become very ill, and fight for life for decades, before moving to the spirit side. My parents have both died and I’ve mourned the (physical) loss of a dear friend. I’ve not, however, been in the situation that Ginny was thrown into. In what some would call the “twilight years” of her life, her reality shifted suddenly. Now, here’s where the “story” actually begins. Ginny is absolutely amazing. In spite of knowing her nature, tenacity, and view of life, it’s still incredible to see how she’s responded to what happened. She has never once said, “Why me?”, “Why did this happen to Dick?”, “Why am I in this situation at this point in my life?”, “Why God, why?” I asked her on Tuesday night, “Have you ever been angry with Dick for jumping?” Her answer was very simple, “no”. She has no anger, no resentment, no “what ifs” running around in her head. She is as positive and spiritual and loving as always.
Ginny’s daughter and son-in-law, Nan and Mike, moved in a while ago to help with her home and health. Nan left her job to be with her Mom. She, too, is amazing and runs the home and takes care of Ginny with such concern and love. She told us that when Mom needed her and Mike, they simply gave away all of their “things” and moved forward. Last fall, Ginny’s other daughter, Amy, moved from Tennessee to be with her family. They visit Dick every day. This family is remarkable. If you’d meet Ginny, you’d understand why.
Last week, I told you about Karen, an amazing woman who is my role model for gratitude. Ginny’s a role model for accepting what you’re given, making that into amazing, and living, always (all ways), in the presence of God, with intention.
With all the ways Ginny could have played out the remaining years of her life, she chose one that I’m not sure, in those circumstances, most of us would. She did not choose anger. She did not choose blame. She did not choose victimization. She did not choose to get small and closed-minded and wrapped in a blanket of pain. Ginny chose belief in God. Ginny chose love. Ginny chose life.
This woman, eight decades into her life, lives with more intention than anyone I’ve ever known. Her friendship is a true gift to me, and to all whose worlds she touches. As I held her hand before I left, she reminded me about being my “ace in the hole”. I told her that’s something I’d never forget.
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