“‘Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32
Jerry and I first met Eilene Garrett over fifty years ago, when she was the wife of Elder William Garrett who founded both the UPCI church in Hanford and the one in Goshen–and other churches, I believe. It was at the Hanford church that Jerry started a revival the night after the Cantrell’s wedding. (Barbara Cantrell is the daughter of Eilene Garrett.) Our friendship is sweet and has been long.
It has probably been twenty years or more since Elder Garrett died, leaving his dear wife behind. She has faithfully served God, served churches, served the Western District, and served her family. Now she is quite aged, and when we saw her at the anniversary banquet on Friday evening, she was seated in a wheel chair. She seems so frail. I leaned over her, introduced myself, leading with, “You may not remember me.”
Softly, she said, “How could I forget you?”
Jerry told me he reminded her of that far-away day in Hanford when she entertained us for dinner, and after the delicious meal was finished, she politely inquired. “Did you like the meat?”
We both liked it, Jerry and I replied.
With a twinkle in her eye, she confessed. “It was bear meat.”
And I ask you today, How can we forget our friends, those with whom, through the years, we have sorrowed and wept and laughed and rejoiced.
Mingled with the laughter and frivolity at the anniversary banquet were a few tears–tears of nostalgia, love and care. I spoke to someone: The reason our long friendships are so precious and dear is that we have endured much together. We have lasted through misunderstandings and turmoil. We have watched our churches grow, and cried as they struggled. We have laughed with each other’s children, and grieved at their funerals. We have used up a lot of life together, and such memories are rare and unusual.
And now is Eilene Garrett finishing out her life, a sage, a saint, a friend, a child of God.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12