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Bold, active and confident—that was Margaret. Supported by her husband Jim she established a solid small business in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Life was good. She loved life and loved to drive and travel.
Never one to back away from challenges, she’d meet them head-on—whether putting in strong runs on tricky ski slopes, or staring down unscrupulous men in business who sought to take advantage of the fact she was a woman (this was in the 70s and 80s). They’d better watch out—nothing would get past Margaret!
The ‘tomboy’ designation, while politically incorrect nowadays, was a label she cheerfully wore in her childhood and youth. And if you knew her as I got to know her, you would understand why. She was fun, and could be a formidable opponent in advancing her point of view.
In mid-life, hurtling along in the ‘good life,’ Margaret slammed into a wall. Rheumatoid arthritis! The disease advanced rapidly. Goodbye skiing, goodbye business. Extensive travel became difficult and extremely painful. By the time I met her she was in her 70’s and confined to an electric wheelchair.
Other health conditions arose, including serious complications from prolonged medication. She sported a welcome smile despite her misshapen body and fingers that looked like bloated, gel-filled rubber toys.
Her excellent driving skills transferred to her wheelchair. Cupping her palm over the control, since her fingers couldn’t work, Margaret could back up within a half-inch of clearance, although restricted in turning her head more than a few degrees.
Since the onslaught of the disease she’d come to know the Lord Jesus and trusted God to help her to live for Him by helping others. The day came when she and her husband, her caregiver—but who was heading into a deeper stage of Alzheimer’s, moved into a nursing care residence.
Margaret loved reading. Using a book opened on her wheelchair tray she began visiting and reading to other residents no longer able to read. They loved her reading passages from the Bible and devotionals, as well as poetry and novels. She turned pages herself, but with considerable difficulty. Some residents welcomed her prayers for them and received much comfort.
Margaret shared her gifts of care and faith, and original poetry and readings, up until God her called home to be with the Lord Jesus she loved. I was honoured to officiate at her and her husband’s memorial services and burials.
I’ve found over the years that the lives of others are enhanced, when we share our gifts and talents with humility, joy and grace. People most often respond positively. Their focus is raised and their spirits lifted.
After visiting them, I’d leave Margaret and Jim’s room inspired and with lifted spirits. 🙂
P.S. The almost taken-for-granted ability to read provides an opportunity for those who are good readers and have some time to share that gift. There are many folk—especially seniors in nursing home residences—or even in their own homes, for whom reading is difficult on account of reduced vision or blindness. Others may’ve gone through their lives with limited reading skill and who now find it virtually impossible.
Several friends and colleagues volunteer their time and use their reading skills in this way.