Journal Living

She Lived to Be 105—and This Mantra Got Her Through

She Lived to Be 105—and This Mantra Got Her Through www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Traci Rhoades

Technically, she was my great aunt, but we called her Aunt Marjorie. For most of my childhood, it was Aunt Marjorie and Aunt Mildred, a dynamic duo. Although both had married, neither ever had children. By the time my brothers and I came along, they were old, I guess. All I know is when they came to our small town for a visit, it was a family time of eating, visiting, and playing games. When you’re playing games like Spite-and-Malice and Aggravation, you know you come from a family of card sharks. No matter my age, my aunts never let me win a game. 

Aunt Marjorie outlived all of her siblings. In fact, she outlived most people, passing away in her sleep at 105 years of age. The last six years of her life, she lived in assisted living. My family  didn’t live in the area anymore, but when were in Kansas City, we’d always stop in to see her. What a blessing, she knew who we were every time we visited. With great pride, she’d introduce us to all her friends at the retirement home. I mean, all. her. friends.

She got forgetful though. She’d start to tell a story, and a gap would occur in her mind. We’d just move on. Things that had happened recently blended in with things of the past, and she had a hard time keeping a straight timeline.

The time we visited her shortly after my parents got a divorce was a hard one. We didn’t know how much to tell this elderly aunt who meant so much to us. The other visit, after Dad died and we lost the family farm, that was even more challenging. We had decided we wouldn’t tell her about this turn of events at all.

Which, of course meant the things she kept asking about were the forbidden topics. She asked about my dad. She asked if my parents were happy. She wanted to know how the farm was doing. Was there enough rain? How was the old home place? We stumbled around in our answers, tears welled up in our eyes. 

Based on what she’d already been told by other family members, and the hesitation she sensed from us, it was obvious she knew bad things had happened. Her feeble mind didn’t remember it all clearly, but she knew her loved ones were hurting.

Again and again, as if on repeat, she said, “This too shall pass.” I will never forget the intensity in her gaze as she looked each one of us in the eye, one after another. Her voice got shaky. She felt the pain, even though her mind wasn’t holding in the details. 

This too shall pass.

Over the years, I’ve internalized these wise words from my aunt. This woman who lived through the Great Depression. This woman who held a full-time job for most of her adult life, and saved most of her earnings. As a girl, she’d lost her four-year old sister to pneumonia. She said goodbye to her parents, grandparents and all five of her siblings in her lifetime. This woman who told us at one point in her later years, she found herself spending most of her time visiting friends at the hospital or attending funerals. She knew it. She’d lived it.

This too shall pass. 

Time has redeeming power. The things that are weighing us down will not keep us down. The marriage troubles you might be having. The struggles with your teenager. The loneliness you feel because you had to move again. The financial troubles that threaten to drown you. The unemployment line. The depression you can’t seem to manage.

This too shall pass.

About the author

Traci Rhoades

My name is Traci. I live in southwest Michigan, somewhere in a triangular section connecting Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids with all things Lake Michigan. My husband and I parent one daughter. We have dogs, cats, ducks, pigs and chickens. Their number is always changing, as farm animal counts tend to do. I enjoy watching sports, reading, cooking and all things Bible study. I am a writer. When I first started blogging, I wondered about what unique voice I could bring. I’ve landed on this one line: A country girl goes to church.