Some folks go through life singing, no matter what their circumstances. Such was a friend of mine, a little lady named Elsie, who died May 8, 2009 at the age of 95. One of the last things she did was to sing a hymn with her friends at her nursing home.
Hers was not an easy life. Reared in poverty in Dallas, Texas, she and her older sister, Jessie, who died a few years ago at the age of 94, as children entertained themselves by singing. They sang the songs of their day and they made up their own songs, most of which they never forgot and continued to sing much later in life.
The girls ended up in an orphans' home because their father was not able to care for them. What happened to their mother was never clear. But the little girls made it through, grew up, married and went their separate ways.
The older sister, Jessie, was a factory worker and later a hair dresser. She had a couple of failed marriages and never had any children. She was quite poor but loved beautiful things and dancing. Childlike faith and a positive attitude were her hallmark.
The younger sister, Elsie, married a blind man and they made a living singing on street corners in Chicago and later in other cities. In mid-life she and her husband settled in Little Rock, Arkansas. After his death she supported herself cleaning offices at night. Her older sister, by then alone, came to live with her.
They were quite a pair: sisters who loved one another dearly, but with very different temperaments and personalities. Elsie loved poetry and books on almost any subject. She was quite a collector of all kinds of stuff. Jessie on the other hand was very neat and orderly and wanted everything in its place. Like children, they sometimes had a spat but soon made up and all was well.
Whenever possible, the two would sing together, just as they had done as children. They harmonized well and would sing with or without accompaniment. All they needed was an audience, large or small.
Elsie became a member of the Church of God in the early 70's and her sister soon after. They loved their fellow Church members and faithfully attended services, Bible Studies and the annual Festivals of the Church until they were in their 90's and their declining health prevented them from attending. At services, at fun shows and at private gatherings they would sing their favorite songs including those they had written as children.
As they aged and began to fail, they received great support, emotionally and otherwise, from their Church friends, and they were very appreciative of the wonderful relationships they had developed over the years.
But time is relentless. Jessie died first and Elsie lived on for several more years. Her wry sense of humor, her somewhat eccentric ways, and her childlike enthusiasm never waned, even though physically she became very frail.
The last time I saw her was about a year ago. She recognized me and we had a nice chat. I reminded her that there are three stages in life: youth, middle age and "You are looking well!" I told her that I hate it when people tell me I'm looking well, because I know the end is near. We laughed about that. A little later as we said goodbye and I turned to leave, she called my name. When I turned back to see what she wanted, she said to me, "You know, Davy, you are looking well." Her sense of humor was still undimmed.
Then the call came. Elsie had died peacefully in her sleep, as the Bible says, "in a good old age, full of days." She was a character with character. Her many friends and I will miss her, but we have the fond memories of the many songs she sang, her rich good humor and her dedication to the Truth she found in her Bible. Thankfully, all of that is not lost. You see, Elsie and her beloved sister Jessie will live again, as will others who have died in the faith. They will come up in the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory, to reign in the Kingdom of God on this earth. Elsie and Jessie will sing again, without the infirmities of age and the limitations of physical life.
You can know more about what lies ahead for you and your loved ones including those who have died and those who will die before the return of the Messiah. Our booklet entitled Your Ultimate Destiny, which is free of charge, explains this important subject. Read it online, or request your copy today.
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