Every year, on the first Saturday in June, The Ladies Aid of Antioch Christian Church hosts The Golden Years Luncheon. This is for an elite group of people in our church and surrounding communities, a club open only to those in their golden years - otherwise known as AARP members.
The theme this year was patriotic. We invited the veterans to stand and be recognized. It was humbling to hear when and where these brave men served and for how long. Most had served in the Army. One had seen battle in WWII another Korea another Vietnam.
These folks look forward to this event every year. It's a time for them to come together and fellowship and simply enjoy the company of one another. Unfortunately, as the years go by, our guest list gets a little shorter with some having made their final trip Home.
But for those left here to participate, there's never a shortage of food, including awesome desserts! But I've learned that I don't need to make nearly the large portions for this group of folks; they simply don't eat as much as the rest of us!
One of our guests of honor was Mr. Clingman Woolard. Isn't that the best name? That's one of the things I love about the elderly - their names. Names like Willie Jourdan (that's a lady), Nathel Clark, Fairbell Oldham, Frederick Hugo Ricker, Mattie Francis Elkins. I mean, they read like a who's who at a Sunday social!
Mr. Woolard doesn't attend Antioch on a regular basis anymore. He only comes for special occasions and it's always a treat for us to see each other. For some reason, Mr. Woolard's found a special friendship with me, and I welcome it with open arms - and him, too. During these special occasions, we catch up. And while we're chatting, Mr. Woolard is holding my hand, two fingers to be exact, and gently squeezing them. I don't even think he's aware that he's doing it. And as we're talking, he's looking me directly in the eye. I feel like I have his undivided attention and that he thinks we're the only two people in the room.
Yesterday was no different. I learned that Mr. Woolard was in the Army in WWII - military police to be exact. He told me about his trip via "a cruise" to Germany and another, pleasure trip later in life to Hawaii. He told the story with such detail and warm memories I could almost smell the orchids he spoke of. We talked about his cattle and the value of which continue to decline. He told me "they" took his driver's license away from him. He told me he was happy with the life he'd led so far, that later this month he'd be wrapping up his 88th year here. He said he's ready to go home whenever the Lord sees fit. But he didn't say this bitterly or with sadness. Quite the contrary, he seemed completely at ease and self-satisfied.
I'll be there to say goodbye to Mr. Woolard when the Lord does call him home. But I sure hope it's not any time soon because, well, Mr. Woolard and I still have much to talk about...