Monday, February 13, 2012

She Stole My Heart

When I first met Millie, she was 88 years old.

It was love at first sight.

She stole my heart with her funny little hats, her old-fashioned clothes and her impish grin.
She lived in a tiny, run-down house on a small farm in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.   

A little old widow living all by herself, except for her cats and her plants.

I met her while I was canvassing the neighborhood, inviting strangers to a week-long, county-wide church revival meeting.  She was one of the few who said that she would be happy to go.   She didn't drive, so she hadn't been able to get to church for years, and she missed it. 

I adopted her on sight.

For the next three years, as long as I lived in Pennsylvania, Millie sat next to me in church every Sunday.  Most of the time, she held my hand.  When I started dating Rob, he just moved into our pew with us.  Then I had two hands to hold.  

My adopted Grandmother.

She had no children of her own, but she had 5 step-grandchildren, 19 step-great-grandchildren and several step-great-great-grandchildren. Only a few of them ever took the time to visit her.

Whenever I visited her, we would always wander outside to check on the happenings in her garden. She loved growing things. She wasn't fussed about weeds, and she didn't care about having a pristine yard. Her pleasure came from seeing the spinach bursting out of the ground. Or from pointing out the squash and the watermelon. Or from watching her tomato vines sprawling over the garden soil. We waded through the crooked rows of her garden, her cats following us wherever we went. She'd pretend to be annoyed with her cats, but her reprimands didn't bother them in the least. They knew that her bark was much worse than her bite.

My sweet Millie. Eighty-eight years old when I met her.

She often remarked in her quavering, high-pitched voice that she was just "too old to be alive."

Oh sweet Millie, I'm so grateful that you were not too old to be alive.

Millie turned 90 on the day when Rob and I married.  She attended our wedding, and sat up front with our other grandmothers. Little Millie in her funny hat, wearing the grandmother corsage on our wedding day.  I still cry to remember her sitting there.  My adopted Grandmother.  We sang happy birthday to her at our reception.  From then on, we were always able to chart her age by our wedding anniversaries.

When we moved to Virginia, I wanted to take her with me.  I begged her to go.  She thought about it for a while, but her life was in her little house in Lancaster with her cats and garden.

I wept to leave her.

I drove up to visit her a few times, and she got to meet both Ben and Elijah.

She lived almost long enough to meet Aaron: When she finally died a couple of years ago, she was 107 years old.


My dear sweet Millie.

She stole my heart and I will never be the same.  I loved her.  My Millie.

She's been gone for a little over two years.  I miss her.  I rejoice in the fact that the Lord granted her long years, so that even though she was eighty-eight, I still had the privilege to sit by her side every Sunday for three years, holding her wrinkled little hand in mine.  I am grateful that she was not "too old to be alive" so that I could hear the story of her life.  

She only ever shared bits and pieces.  When we were rummaging through old boxes in her house, or searching her attic for some what-not that she couldn't find-- then she would share.  Bits and pieces, glimpses of a past life that was filled with pain and wonder.  

It was a surprising and very shocking story.  It was a story that bore witness to God's faithfulness toward one widowed old lady.

It's something that I want to share: the bits and pieces that I know of Millie's Story.

To be continued....


  1. I can't wait to hear the rest of Millie's story. Thank you for taking the time to share her with us. What a beautiful legacy...

  2. *107* I can barely fathom that age. What a remarkable lady and such a blessing to so many! Will look forward to hearing the rest of the story.

  3. I am in tears already. You see, I had a special little-old-lady neighbor in my life for not nearly long enough. She died two years ago this week. I miss her still. She lived long enough to meet my Super-T, just a week or two after he came home, as she was fading away in the nursing home. I never knew that a dear woman in her 80's, who I wasn't related to, could be so important to me, but she was. Hers will be a face I look for in heaven.

    I am looking forward to Millie's story and remembering my Mrs. M's story...a truly heartbreakingly tragic and triumphant story.

  4. Oh the cliffhangers!!!!

    I just recovered from the Aaron/Christmas story and here I am again :)

    Love it so far, can't wait to hear the rest.

  5. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

  6. Can't wait to read the rest of the story!

  7. The photos didn't show up the first time I read, and then when they did, I scrolled over them quickly at first. And at first glance, I though it was Ben and Aaron together with her - and then I realized it was you and Ben (or Elijah)! Your son looks a lot like you - and Aaron looks like his older brother!
    Millie looks so sweet in your pictures. I'm happy that you got to have her in your life for so long despite her age - almost 20 years!

  8. You love cliff hangers don't you!?

  9. What a wonderful treasure to have in your life! I can't wait to hear her story!

  10. Such a beautiful post - love how God puts the people you need in your life, and the people that need you.


  11. so beautiful. thank you for sharing millie with us.

  12. I was so struck by how much you look like Ben and Elijah in this picture! Wow! Can't wait to hear the rest of this story... : )


Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!