90: Uncle Walt’s Legacy

90: Uncle Walt’s Legacy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Uncle Walt’s Legacy

By Shirley Pieters Vogel

“. . . God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

~Psalm 73:26

Asking for directions to Uncle Walt’s room, I wondered if he would know me and my mom. Or would he be like the confused patients grabbing at us as we walked by? Always kind and willing to help others, he was now sometimes verbally abusive. “Please, God, not to us,” I prayed.

Sitting lopsided in a chair, Uncle Walt stared straight ahead. I tried to ignore his disheveled clothes. When he looked vacantly at me, I missed seeing his slightly crooked smile that always reminded me of my father. There was no apparent recognition, and I wanted Uncle Walt to remember how much we loved each other. Had Alzheimer’s already stolen that?

“Uncle Walt, do you know me?” After what seemed a long time, he said, “You’re my niece, uh…” Afraid he couldn’t finish, I said, “Yes, I’m Shirley.” Hugging him, I motioned my mother to come nearer. Kissing him, she said, “I’m your brother Milt’s wife, Jennie.”

Mom and I talked until, gradually, Uncle Walt delighted us with even his shortest answers. But, at times, he would slip away, leaving us with an expressionless stranger. I wanted to reach in and pull out my Uncle Walt.

As I picked up his Bible, Mom suggested I read Psalm 128, and then added, “Remember, Walt, it was your mother’s favorite.” I began, “Blessed are all who fear the LORD…” And Uncle Walt recited the rest — never hesitating! Smiling, he said, “I used to recite that psalm daily.”

A nurse later found him on the floor next to his bed. Refusing to get up, he explained, “I’m saying my prayers.” Although Uncle Walt’s relationship with me was impaired, his walk with God remained solid, and his example spoke volumes. Blessed are those who fear the Lord — everyone! What a legacy!

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