The Flip-side of Mentorship

I stumbled across two of my most precious mentors entirely by accident. In fact, I was supposed to assisting them.

Nanny was approaching 90, and she lived with her 70+ year-old daughter, Katherine. Make no mistake – Katherine was and is completely capable of absolutely anything. In her multi-facted role of grandma, sister, housekeeper, mother, caring daughter, community volunteer, active church member and widow, she never dropped a ball. Not a crumb landed on her polished floor. Not a dog hair lingered on her couch. Her lawn was never too long.

But Nanny was approaching 90 and her health was supposed to be failing. Hospice entered the picture and began to send a nurse out a couple times per week to help with bathing, medication, etc. And I was a hospice volunteer, assigned to Nanny for companionship and to stay with her occasionally for Katherine to have a few hours off. That never happened.

Once or twice, I “kidnapped” Nanny, and we would get a pedicure or go to the mall or drive around old-town Columbus and she would tell me stories of growing up in the old south. Then, we would come home, hoping that Katherine had taken a nap or read a book, only to find that every single time she put herself to another task. Katherine cooked for her whole extended family, managed her children’s finances, raised her granddaughter, spoke at church, volunteered in the community, and cared for her dying brother. Never, never, never did I see her relax. Never, never, never did I hear her complain.

On many occasions, Nanny and I simply sat outside on the back porch with her dachshund, Prissy, and thumbed through old photo albums. Sometimes, Katherine would pour a rich glass of southern-sweet tea and join us. Katherine was bold about her love for Jesus, and so was Nanny. In fact, the first time I met them, Nanny told me, “Don’t expect to visit me for too long, I hope Jesus calls me home soon!”

The love in Katherine and Nanny’s home met every visitor at the door. It swept me up and carried me inside. Katherine imparted wisdom to me incidentally. In her I saw diligence, commitment, sacrifice, service, boldness and hope. Katherine proof read some of my articles and offered godly criticism.

Nanny taught me about marriage in the stories of her deceased husband. She had married at the age of 15-16. A girl can hardly have determined her love interests by that age, but Nanny had determined her commitment before the Lord. She told me of discovering their differences and similarities.

During this time, I was slipping back into an old, destructive habit of compulsive, excessive exercise. No one I knew called me on it. None of my running buddies mentioned my obsession. None of my family lived close enough to see the decline. No one seemed concerned that I was losing weight. No one but Katherine and Nanny. Suddenly, my weekly visit to care for their needs flipped to a weekly accountability check-up.

I doubt that I was as good for Nanny and Katherine as they were for me. But God was good, and before I moved, hospice had to drop Nanny because she was no longer declining.

Sorry, Nanny. God continues to share you with us one day at a time! But I am confident, that when you do go home both you and Katherine will be rewarded as a “good and faithful servants.”