My great aunt, Frances Northington, died on Monday, November 4 and joined her husband Bill and her twin brother (my grandfather) in the presence of God to await the resurrection and the marriage of the new heaven and new earth. My brothers and her other grandnephews referred to her as Auntie.
Auntie was a remarkably beautiful human being who in every encounter I knew with her had a smile on her face, always remembered to say “I love you so much” and never failed to give every one of her family members a greeting and a parting kiss, even though it embarrassed the daylights out of me when I was a child. I remember hearing stories from the manager at the local grocery in La Center, Kentucky, about when Auntie and her daughters would go grocery shopping. He witnessed how upon each and every encounter she had with her family members, they would meet each other with incredible delight as though they hadn’t seen each other in years, even though it had only been just a few minutes since they had last met in an adjacent aisle.
There was this tremendous sense of dependability when it came to Auntie’s expression of the deep-seated and abiding joy that reigned in her heart. You could count on her smile as much as the sun rises. You couldn’t get away from her kisses when she greeted you and as we would say “until we meet again” just as you can’t get away from the seasons changing.
As I have reflected on this joyous vibrancy that filled her life and spilled over into others, I was taken back to something G.K. Chesterton wrote in his classic work, Orthodoxy:
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
Auntie had that “eternal appetite of infancy” too. It was as though she lived by that sense of ‘Do it again’ with every encounter she had with friends and family: to never grow tired of sharing her love through kinds words and a kiss on the cheek. I last saw Auntie in December of last year. I’ll miss that dependable “until we meet again” kiss, but do look forward to the day when I get that kiss on the cheek to greet me in the land of perpetual joy. Love you, Auntie! Can’t wait to see you again!