An Encouraging Word – An ‘old lady’ magnet

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

Cast me not off in my old age. Psalm 71:9

It’s no secret. I like old people, especially feisty old people, the ones who are old in body, but young at heart. Not only am I attracted to their energy, they are attracted to mine. I have been called a lot of names, but one that I enjoy most is “old lady magnet.” Even the late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly used to tease me about it.

One such friend — let’s call her Grace — did her best to respond to God’s love, even though she knew that she did not always get it right. I asked her once about her biggest regret. Without pausing to think about it, she said, “Being a smart aleck! I have always told people exactly what I think. I was probably too hard.”

Sometimes, she was proud of her tough side. One day I said to her, “Everyone around here knows you’re strong willed.” She smiled and said gleefully, “I do have some of them intimidated, don’t I?” Another time, she had called her doctor a “goon.”

When I said it was not nice to call people “goons,” she answered, “I know, but I enjoyed it.” Another time, I said to her, “You’re a little hard-headed, aren’t you?” She smiled back and said these prophetic words, “Someday you’ll stand over my dead body and say, “Now there’s a woman who ran her own life.”

We laughed our heads off sometimes. One day, she said to me out of nowhere, “I never was a pretty child.” When I answered, “Me neither,” we both laughed hysterically. On another occasion, I said something about my being fat. She looked at me right in the eyes and said, “You’re not fat! (pause) Maybe a little plump, but certainly not fat.”

At one point, she was calling me as many as eight times a day. When I pointed it out to her, she answered sheepishly, “I decided not to call any more, but my finger would not cooperate. I knew you’d be mad, but I thought it would be worth it. I just wanted to hear your voice.”

One morning, she looked up and said, “Well, look at you, sitting there looking so cute.” When I said back, “I think your eyes are failing,” she shot back, “Let ‘em fail!”
Funniest of all, I was telling her what I was going to say at her funeral. She listened carefully and then responded, “Well, Father Knott, I hope you live long enough to be there.”

Just a week before she died, when she could not even speak, I left her room realizing that we had been laughing even while she was dying.

We always said a prayer before I left. Her faith both inspired and amazed me. One day we were talking about prayer when she said, “I don’t pray for things anymore. I just pray and what I need comes to me.”

That’s faith! I still miss her.

To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog:

Father J. Ronald Knott

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