My aunt Gayle is also my Godmother, after having received faith and been baptized in my 40’s. My husband and I both got baptized with my little girls. We asked the only friends we had in CO to be their Godparents and then thought, what about us? Maybe it seems silly to have Godparents listed for adults, but I wanted my young faith to have the support and prayers of someone who I knew would have sincerity and affection for the journey of faith my husband and I would take with our girls, this side of heaven. I immediately thought of my Aunt Gayle. I can’t think of another adult in my life as a kid, who showed me more sincere affection and appreciation for who and how I was made. Aunt Gayle always seemed to find a way to make me feel especially loved, and not in spite of my eccentricity or rough understanding of manners, but instead, she always gave me the impression those were things that made her love me especially. She never encouraged trouble and never celebrated my mistakes, instead she would find the qualities in how I was made that still shined through all the rough and unruly material. Aunt Gayle would hug you tight, even if you had a dirty face. She’d smile as soon as she locked eyes with me, even if it was a crowded, busy room. I always knew I had someone that held me in high esteem, even though I was making mistakes and so often growing up the hard way. I watched her be a friend to my Mom through my Mom’s hardest times, but she was also still a supportive and concerned friend, even through her own hardest times. She whole heartedly rejoiced with us in the celebrations of our life, also whether she herself was in good times or bad. Gayle was not a fair weather friend. She was not family only in name or obligation, she was a pillar of faith and friendship and unconditional love. She is what Godparents are made of.
Through my life I have watched her stand firm in winds that blow things to the ground. I have watched her keep her promises, come what may. I have seen her express her faith quietly through some of the hardest choices, often choosing sacrifice and silence, in order that the higher truth be where she can rest, even while her immediate experience involved hurt and doing without. She really understood that her treasure could not be counted the way the world counts precious things. Gayle’s true gifts this side of heaven, were always the ones she gave, the ones that could not be counted and measured by the world’s standards. She knew what it was to yearn to be loved especially, but in order to experience it, she had to give it to others. She did to me. To my whole family.
I’ve had many wonderful talks where she expressed her love, especially for her own family. Each and every one of them. Always looking in just the right place, to find that thing that makes that person special, and brought me stories of her appreciation and gratitude for the specialness of the person. Never dwelling on the things that make us all hard to love, each in our own way. Even with those who may not have loved her unconditionally or with warm affection, she never questioned the value of the person nor their importance in the fabric of other’s lives and God’s creation.
I am married today, because I knew exactly what it looks like to keep the promise to love and to honor, for riches and for poor, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health. Who would have thought I would reach moments in my marriage where I questioned my strength to endure a life with someone and find a way to thrive through all those conditions. Happy and in beginning bliss, how was I to know that I would experience what most anyone experiences when married: a season that seems beyond what I’m made of. And so it is, there are seasons beyond what I’m made of, a life that can ask more from me than I actually have, can take more from me more than I feel I can live without, and has also at times, given me more than I can handle or appreciate. But this is where people like my Aunt offer such a profound example. Quietly. Not calling attention to her Christianity or her humble acts, but just simply living it out and sharing her affection and love and interest, even while the waves are rising in her own life. So I can see that it is all quite possible, but not of our own strength, but God’s. That we can forgive, 7 x 70, because these numbers simply teach that forgiveness is possible the perfect number of times, as many times as God would have us forgive. Though the waters rise, they will not overtake you. That doesn’t mean belongings or this earthly treasure, that means that faith can always reach above the rising waters and anchor my soul to eternity, that I need not wander lost, if my faith is anchored firmly. It won’t matter what it looks like to others. The evaluation of those near, no matter how close, can never truly know the heart. Only God knows the heart. And He has one of His finest hearts alive with Him now, surrounded by the true and lasting treasure, Jesus Christ.
Gayle loved her family. There was something in each one of you that she loved especially.
In our visits during her last days, she told me she knew it must seem to those looking on, at what she was going through with her health, that she should just let go and be done. She said she knew it was hard to see the difficulties of failing health, but she said “Polly, I’m just not done yet, I have more living to do. I just want to feel better again, before I die”. During those last days this statement made me feel sadness, but the morning after her death, the sunrise reinterpreted the statement into one of pure grace. While watching the first sunrise without my Aunt, my grief was given the peace that can only come from God. This sunrise was more spectacular than any I had seen all year and I was suddenly overcome with the idea of heaven rejoicing at her arrival. It seemed to me, the longing she had to feel better, was perhaps the longing for heaven for those headed home. I finally felt comfort in knowing she felt better now, that she could finally fully embrace all the days she had been given and rejoice with the angels and all those she has spent a lifetime missing. It does me good to imagine Aunt Gayle resting in the feeling of her Heavenly Father’s love which He has always had for her, especially.
Sept 22’ 2019
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.