Yesterday Mom and I went to visit our oldest living relative, Mom's great aunt. She will be 99 years old next month, and she is completely alert and extremely healthy except for failing vision, a slight hearing problem, and being stooped and unable to walk unaided. Her husband is 94, and he prepared us a big lunch with cake and ice cream.
She wanted me to play the piano for her, so I did. I don't think she could hear me sing, and I don't think she's really aware of the idea of songwriting, composition, arranging, etc. I learned that she absolutely hates keyboards--she was alarmed that I don't have a piano. That's all right. She enjoyed my playing.
She told us all kinds of stories about her childhood in Kentucky and Indiana, what courting was like for her (very interesting actually), playing piano at revivals around the state, etc. I nearly got into a debate with her when she asked if the Church of God believe in letting women go to "dance halls" and started talking about holiness... (This has been a pet topic of hers for years.) The Church of God believes that holiness is about living a Spirit-filled life as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit, not about what you do or don't do. The doing and not doing follows naturally. I tried briefly to explain this but gave up when I saw we weren't quite on the same page. I think that she has the right general idea that doing certain things tends to lead a person away from holiness; but following legalistic rules doesn't make holiness. God works from the inside out!
But those debates make my mom pretty uncomfortable. So I tried to leave it alone... I would have enjoyed learning from getting a different perspective if we were alone; but it wasn't necessary or helpful in this context.
The funny thing is that this morning the choral song at church was "Praise You with the Dance." (No, hurricaneamy, not the one we used to play together. I wish!) I had just told Dad in the car about the dancing discussion. We went in and the choir was practicing. He leaned over and asked, "Praise You with the what?" We just laughed thinking about it!
Most of the time when I visit people, I don't make myself at home or look around their houses... As a child, I was always discouraged from touching other people's things; so I don't do it as an adult. She took down some of her trinkets and showed them to me. Some of them are things that were her mother's before she was born! Since I don't usually pay attention to people's trinkets, I've never noticed whether I could see anything that would make them visually attractive to me. Her house had some interesting lighting angles, and when she held up her dishes I was able to see light reflecting differently off of each one. I've always been fascinated with light patterns, and I felt like I had been transported back to my childhood when I used to watch light play off the water in my bath or drinking glass.
I suppose this discussion of trinkets is probably not very amusing for most readers, but it's part of what I remember from my childhood and I was surprised at how significant the experience was for me yesterday. Because I have lost so much of my vision, I have developed an attitude that light is light and objects are objects... I don't really think of my vision as having much value for appreciating anything or judging anything worth appreciating. For all I know, Mom could tell me that someone's trinkets were visually ugly after I've been sitting there watching these beautiful light displays! I suppose beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, and at some point I need to find my own appreciation for it somehow or figure out how to find things that are generally beautiful and also capture my eyes. The dilemma is that I don't know how to describe my perceptions of beauty or what makes something appealing to me.
Mom and I ran into this problem when we attempted to find decorations for my house in 2001. I wanted things with meaning for me, but I also wanted things that I could enjoy personally... I wanted to decorate for myself and my visitors who are visually impaired as well as for my visitors who are sighted... Decorations create mood, and it was important to me that everyone be able to share in it. Being in Aunt Judy's house yesterday made me realize that something is missing from my mood, and I'm not sure how to explain what it is.