Next week Steve and I will travel to California to celebrate my aunt's 100th birthday. Her name is Inez, but her nieces and nephews all call her Aunt Nezzie. She is sociable and chatty, a bit opinionated, and was my mother's closest sister - the oldest in a family of 13 children, 4 boys and 9 girls. Singing was a vital part of the family my aunt was born into. My Grandpa, her father, was a church deacon, piano teacher, train conductor, and hymn writer. One of my Grandpa's hymns, "Singing All the Year," extols the singing of praise to God all year round. The words to the last verse read, "So, when in Fall shall come the harvest, and the reaping's over, we'll rest in peace from winter's blast on God's eternal shore." When we all go to the birthday party, it will also be a big family reunion - and I mean big - with lots of singing. All the aunts that are still alive sing harmonies spontaneously and can go on all night.
Aunt Nezzie has outlived 2 of her 3 children and all 3 of her husbands. The husband I liked the best was Merv, because he had a dog that sang and played the piano. This was important in a family that always sang. The Jack Russell Terrier performed standing on his two hind legs, front paws pounding on a little white toy piano that was out of tune. His voice was a bit shrill. Uncle Merv, a well-digger by trade, proudly brought out the dog for every visitor. My aunt and all the family laughed and laughed at his antics. I don't think the dog knew any of Grandpa's hymns.
After 100 years, my aunt's stability is a little wobbly. She uses a walker. She lives in an assisted living home, but still plays games and keeps her nails and hair fixed and pretty. All of us wear out eventually - in our hobbies and habits, our successes and failures, our loneliness and love - but God never tires or wears out. His love never fails, and his grace sustains us throughout this life and all its seasons - even for over 100 years.
One of my Aunt Nezzie's favorite hymns is called "Life's Railway to Heaven." It's not a shining example of doctrinal correctness or musical complexity, but since this blog is about my aunt, I'm concluding with a few of the lyrics. Here's a link to an old version of the song by Johnny Cash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKoIuz71hbg -->
"Life's Railway to Heaven"
Life is like a mountain railway
With an engineer that's brave
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave.
Watch the curves, the fills, the trestles.
Never falter, never fail.
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eyes upon the rail.
Blessed Savior, Thy will guide us
'Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In Thy presence evermore.
May the Lord help us to live the days allotted to us with a song in our hearts and our eyes on the rail . . .