By: Sandra L. Churchill
Everybody needs a Nana, a Grammy, or a loving Nonny to guide, hug, bake, and nurture us along life’s bumpy roads. As a part-time newspaper reporter, one of the sweetest privileges is the ability to interview centenarians for local human interest stories. These “100th birthday” stories are among the favorites of my third grade son to tag along for the adventure.
On a recent 100th birthday visit, we met Frances, a delightful and grace-filled lady whose eyes twinkled when she smiled. My son Timothy was impressed with Frances because she was so gentle and so clearly full of gratitude. Frances took an immediate liking to Timothy, who sat quietly during the interview and listened to Frances share her challenges about leaving school in the eighth grade, and working her way up through a number of interesting jobs.
Frances told Timothy about her faith in God, her asking Him each day to guide her steps, and her daily practice of saying the rosary. She shared her practice of daily walks, which now require the use of her cane, and her passion for sophisticated coloring books depicting geometric patterns, angels, and butterflies. She shared advice from her century of experience—reminding us to be good to each other, take care of our families, forgive the offenses we cause our friends and relatives, and set our minds to enjoy what we are doing each day. Tim was fascinated with her artwork and her life stories, and it occurred to me that we all need a Frances to remind us how to live, love others, and embrace gratitude.
When asked about birthday presents, Frances simply smiled and said she preferred to give, “because everybody’s always been so good to me.” Her contentment surrounded her like a halo and Tim thoroughly enjoyed our morning interview together.
While he always enjoys newspaper adventures where we meet students, fire chiefs, police officers, teachers, the governor, and myriad volunteers, sitting with Frances was extra-special because it was a gift of time with an elderly role model so filled with grace and peace. She bestowed a lovely life model on my little guy that served as a reminder to me as well: to embrace each day despite the challenges it holds, choose to enjoy whatever we are doing, and most of all—to thank the Great Provider who loves us along the way.