Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tough As Peter

It had been a hard day at work, and I was exhausted. It was more than work, of course, that had exhausted me.  The day had started early with two trips to the barn to feed horses and let them out, with a blog post written in between.  After that, I had headed to work, where the scheduled had been jam-packed.  Before I left the office that afternoon, I text'd a brief synopsis of the day to my boss.  He quickly text'd back, "You are tough." With all the different interests and activities I have, I suppose you might think that, but only because you didn't know my Aunt Peter.

Aunt Peter was really Aunt Velma.  One of my older cousins had given her the dubious nickname, she didn't complaint, and the nickname stuck. Aunt Peter it was, and most of us called her that. Aunt Peter was a widow who lived alone and managed quite nicely.  That may not seem remarkable, but she was essentially blind, having had one eye removed and the other having almost no vision.  To make matters more difficult, she had such severe rheumatoid arthritis, as well as deformities related to a severe burn as a child, that it was a wonder she could walk at all.  Her head was chronically tilted to one side, frozen in place.  Her fingers were gnarled and overlapping, and she had almost no movement at all in her hands.  Her thumbs, though, were mobile.  If you asked her, those thumbs were a great blessing.

There was also the problem of her feet.  The deformities in her feet were almost as severe as those of her hands.  The only reason that she could wear shoes was that a kind cobbler in our town would take a leather shoe, just big enough for those tiny gnarled feet, cut out windows for all the deformities, and sew leather patches over them to make room and prevent pressure.  If she ever had a foot ulcer, I never knew it, and it was a direct result of the efforts of Mr. Lyman, the "shoe man".

Aunt Peter had devised all kinds of devices to help her make it in her little house alone.  She had pinchers on a long handle that allowed her to grasp most anything she wanted off her shelves.  She was something else with a broom handle!  She could move just about anything with that handle. If she had anything other than canned peaches and Sweet Sue Chicken and dumplings on her shelves, I never saw it.  I'm not sure how healthy her diet was, but she was certain to be happy with whichever can she knocked off her shelf.

 Now lest you think that a blind woman who was so crippled might have a dirty house, let me put that to rest.  Aunt Peter believed in mopping the floor until the rinse water was clear.  She might not be able to tell if the floor was clean, but if she kept mopping until the rinse water was no longer cloudy (after very careful inspection with her one eye), she was satisfied.  You could have eaten off those floors.

I never heard her complain about her troubles or her deformities.  She never whined about how hard it was to take care of herself and her house.  She just did what had to be done, and kept any complaining to herself.  She didn't mince words, though.  I guess she figured she had earned the right to say what she thought and expect everyone else to listen.  I didn't realize it at the time, but she certainly had!

Aunt Peter was a woman of deep faith.  If you asked her how she managed, she'd say, "The Lord helped me."  No one doubted that He had.  When she had a need she couldn't meet (which was most every need), she just took it to the Lord, knowing He was sure to provide.  He always did.  I don't know how she made it financially, but perhaps there was a pension from Uncle Robert.  Regardless of how little the money in her pocketbook, she always tithed and she always had enough for an offering. She was careful to make sure God got His part first, and He always made sure the rest was enough.

When I think about how I whined and complained about my broken finger last year, and compare myself to Aunt Peter, I am completely ashamed. I may have been in a cast a long time, but I had another hand that worked perfectly well, two good feet, and two eyes that work great.  I was raised better than that, because I had the example of Aunt Peter to guide me.

I don't know what kind of difficulties you are facing, but I'm pretty sure you have troubles of your own. Most of us do.  When you are tempted to whine and complain, just think back on my Aunt Peter, and do what she did.  She took every worry to her Lord and trusted Him with every penny He sent her way.  If you asked her, she'd tell you that it always worked out just fine.