About once a year, I walk past Annie’s house on my way home from my walk when she’s out. We like each other a lot and always have a delightful conversation. This has been going on for about twenty-five years.
Every year we look different, older, of course. We’ve talked about our kids and our lives. Mostly Annie talks, I listen… fascinated. Today we compared our ages. She says she’s going to be eighty this year and she’s glad of it. When she turned 79 she felt like kids do on their 16, 18, or 21st birthdays. “I’ve made it, she says.”
I feel the same way. I’ve made it too, with no major tragedies and my health intact. I was even more interested than usual to hear what Annie had to say. Listening to her was like taking a ride on a cloud. “People are looking to politics and the church to make them happy,” she says. “Those don’t work. Only God can get us through. He loves us unconditionally!”
I heartily agreed. I agreed with everything she said. “If I can help somebody, I do. These kids these days are so smart. I’m going down, but I still have my mind. That’s the most important thing. All of us are going to die. I don’t have any complaints about that, but I’m doing okay while I’m still here. (She has diabetes and kidney failure.)
There we were two neighbors who see each other rarely, but who were in perfect accord on the things that mean the most in life. We could talk on for a long time and never get upset with each other , though we have different opinions on surface matters. When it was time to part we hugged each other gently. We know life is short. We know the last time we saw each other could well be the last time we’ll ever see each other. If she goes, first I’m going to miss her a lot. She has always just been there on the corner. Funny too, when you think about it. She’s black, I’m white, she’s left I’m right, she’s Jehovah’s Witness, I’m interdenominational. I guess it proves that love and respect on a personal level is what really counts. If we can’t sort anything else out, at least we know that much…
New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”