I first blogged about my Aunty Beryl five years ago. By then Beryl had already spent one year in a care home because she was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and could no longer care for herself. Beryl finally passed away earlier this month. Beryl had lived for nearly ninety-one years, although it is a few years since she last properly communicated with another human being.
My parents, who lived nearby to Beryl, took on the responsibility of making all the various arrangements. I had forgotten that many years ago Beryl was a youth leader in the church that she herself had grown up in. Mum and Dad hadn’t forgotten and set about tracking down some of the young people (now in their late seventies and more) who were members of the youth group that Beryl led. Some amazing stories emerged. So many once young but now elderly people who owed so much to a person who committed to spending her spare time investing in them.
It pleases me greatly to hear some of their stories. It thrills me to know that there are people who surrendered their lives to God because my Aunty Beryl cared so much for them and set an example they felt was worth following. It pleases me because I knew that Beryl invested much in me through prayer (and getting others to pray for me) especially during the years I was serving in the Merchant Navy. And Beryl never stopped showing an interest in me, or in my wife or my children. She visited us regularly and I remember her spending the evening on an educational cruise in the Bristol Channel I was involved in. Beryl kept an eye on my two eldest children who were then six and eight years old. I was part of the team running around assisting our young passengers with some of the tasks they had been set, and Beryl’s help was greatly appreciated. She would have been the age I am now.
I don’t understand the suffering that some of us have to endure in this life, or why Alzheimer’s randomly targeted my aunty. But I believe in a God who cares – whatever any of us are going through. Beryl gave much of her time back to Him – serving in various roles in church, faithfully praying for family and friends. Beryl blessed people. And now she has gone to a place of eternal blessing. Beryl may very well have some questions she might wish to ask God about the last few years of her life, but I reckon those years will be the last thing on her perfectly restored mind when she stands before Him.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (John 14:1-7 NLT)