She is ninety-three years old. She sits in the same rural North Carolina church pew, alone, every Sunday. Her nicely-coiffed short white hair frames her hearing-aid impacted ears. Noticing our new faces, she welcomes us with a hand shake. We told her we’re from Indianapolis, visiting our son and his family. Her name is Fay. She explained her situation.
“My husband is dead. He died some time ago. I’m living with my son. He told me to come down from Ohio when my husband died. So I did. But I don’t think he expected me to stay this long. My daughter-in-law hates me. I have a separate entrance and all, but when I’m out in the garden, she won’t even talk to me.”
I muttered my sympathies.
Again she said,”My husband is dead. He was involved with the Boys and Girls Club for many years. Now I volunteer there. The kids are so poor, they have no food. I wish I could buy food for them, but I have no money.”
I suggested she ask a deacon if they could start collecting food from the congregation so she could deliver it to these children. She shied away from the idea.
Again, she repeated, “My husband is dead. He died some time ago. I live along Route 9 right across from the Dollar General. I have my own private entrance.” Did she want Mike and I to visit her?
I wanted to get seated and prepare for worship, so I told Fay I would talk to her later. Then she stunned me with this question:
“Are you finished with me?” she said with a snickering smile and suspicious gleam in her clear-blue eyes.
“No, no…I am NOT finished with you!” I answered, as I patted her gnarled hand. She must feel so rejected so often. I was filled with compassion toward her.
Just then, the pastor’s wife came to greet Fay. They spoke briefly. The pastor’s wife ended the conversation and proceeded to her seat. Fay said:
“You done with me?”
I realized this was a pattern with Fay. Every time someone ended a conversation, or walked away from her, she thought it to be abandonment.
It seemed she needed to reiterate that pivotal event that changed her life. Her husband is dead. Her companion, her other half, part of her own flesh, gone. She kept mentioning this missing piece that so affected her life. Her son offered her the protection she’d lost – come live with me. Yet Fay seems to be floating through old age without an anchor.
Fay, this is for you. You said three times “My husband is dead.”
Fay, your husband is not dead.
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.– Isaiah 54:5.
Fay, don’t latch onto people – imperfect sinners, in search of the companionship and security you so intensely miss.
Even a spouse, our closest confidant and friend, disappoints us at times. Sometimes they aren’t equipped to comfort and console us.
Do not trust in a friend;
Do not put your confidence in a companion… – Micah 7:5
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man. – Psalm 118:8
People may abandon you, ignore you, dislike or disappoint you. But God will be with you always. Some people may be done with you, yes. But God is not finished with you.
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; – Philippians 1:6
Fay, the Lord is not finished with you. He is not done with you.
As you can tell, Fay left an impression on me. She was sharp as a tack. But she seemed to have a phobia of some kind: fear of abandonment? Now I don’t know the whole story. I’m sure this congregation has reached out to Fay, helped her and encouraged her. Maybe Fay is a pest. Maybe she tells little white lies about her daughter-in-law. I don’t know Fay’s whole story, nor do I know her history with this particular church we attended while visiting family in North Carolina. Fay’s loneliness, however, was very real to Fay.
I’m sure many elderly feel this way. These days, many people are finished with their elderly parents. They’re done with them. They are put in homes and ignored. Don’t get me wrong; I know there are horrific heart-wrenching circumstances where that might be necessary.
When you come across the Fays of this world, don’t be finished with them.
If I lived near Fay, I’d try to visit her as often as I could. We could hang out in the garden together.
For now, I am praying for Fay.