My sister and I were talking on the phone the other day and got to remembering the time we visited Grandma and sang hymns for her. She was close to a hundred years old at the time. Her body had grown frail, and her once sharp mind had weakened considerably. But she was still Grandma and she still knew exactly who we were. Obviously delighted to see us, her old eyes brightened at the prospect of company for the afternoon.
After my sister and I had reported briefly any news about our families and our lives, we soon ran out of conversation. So somebody got the idea to go to the organ there in Grandma's living room and sing hymns from the old hymnal. Vicki played and I sang and sometimes we harmonized, sitting there on the organ bench side by side. It was a wonderful exercise in harmony and unity for the two of us sisters who had not spent enough time together over the years. And for Grandma, a deeply religious woman, it was heavenly.
We picked out a few hymns and did a pretty respectable job of performing them. Then Grandma spoke up and said, "Have you got Blessed Assurance? That's my favorite." We immediately looked it up in the hymnal and launched into a darn good rendition. All three of us were pleased as punch when we finished, Grandma giving us a little round of applause. Vicki and I continued with a few more favorites, and then Grandma spoke up again. "Have you got Blessed Assurance? That's my favorite." We carefully explained to her that we just did that one, remember? Grandma quietly said, "Oh," and smiled sheepishly. We continued on with a couple more, really enjoying ourselves now. Then Grandma spoke up again. "Have you got Blessed Assurance? That's my favorite."
Vicki and I looked at each other, grinning and trying to stifle our giggles. Then, reading each other's minds, we both said, "Sure, Grandma, I think it's in here somewhere." And we sang it again, for the first time.
Grandma couldn't remember what songs we had sung five minutes ago, but she could remember that Blessed Assurance was her favorite hymn. She couldn't remember if she'd had lunch, but she could remember that God loved her and would one day soon take her home.
God did take her home at the age of 101. She left me with some of the warmest memories of my childhood, and one especially blessed afternoon in my adult life, when singing hymns with my sister was the best and most important thing to do in the world.