Gratitude Day 645

Matthew 7:12 – (Jesus said,) “In everything you do, be careful to treat others in the same way you’d want them to treat you, for that is the essence of all the teachings of the Law and the Prophets.

Yesterday was a milestone day. Hubby Rick and I attended a birthday party for someone who turned 103-years-old.

Yep. We celebrated Aunt Mill’s 103rd trip around the sun with about 15 other family and close friends. We sat out on the patio at the assisted living where Aunt Mill lives. (Note: she lives in an assisted living facility; not a nursing home.) Aunt Mill is Rick’s aunt. She was an elder sister to Rick’s Dad, Tony.

Aunt Mill and her niece Jane

After lunch, Mil pushed her own walker outside to the porch. In her own words, she is enormously proud that “my buttons are still twirling.” In fine Aunt Mill fashion, she could still rattle off family history like no buddy’s business.

There were five children in Tony’s family. Rick’s Grandma Vielhuber (Tony’s Mom), had a remarkably interesting life. She grew up in the Czech Republic and came to the United States with her sister. They had tickets for the Titanic, but a complication arose and they did not get on the ship. A few months later, the two ladies came to the U.S.

They did not know any English and eventually made it to Chicago. Grandma Vielhuber married and had two daughters, one of which was Aunt Mil. Her husband died very unexpectedly. She married Rick’s grandfather and they had three more children.

Aunt Mill and her sister Helen

Of the five children, Aunt Mil and the youngest daughter, Helen, are alive. Helen and one of her daughter’s flew in from Florida for the party.

I asked Aunt Mill her secret to living 103 years. Her answer? “Do unto others the way you want them to do to you.” Yep, it’s the Golden Rule; a life lesson Jesus taught to a bunch of people gathered near the Sea of Galilee. Towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares this line of wisdom. It’s one thing to say this is important. It’s something different to actually live it.

Aunt Mill, Aunt Helen and her daughter Betty

Aunt Mill emphasized serving people as an important part of living out the Golden Rule. “Help others,” Aunt Mill said in her still heavily accented German English. It’s a little sermon she has lived for years. Never married and with no children, Aunt Mill cared for her mother, Grandma Vielhuber. Her proudest accomplishment is building a house for her mom in the 1960’s. This is the same house Aunt Mill lived in until she entered the assisted living.

Yes, Aunt Mill doesn’t always have a great filter. She says what she thinks. The gathered family agreed that at 103, she should be granted some grace in this department. Everyone enjoyed looking through the photos and family memorabilia, including Mill’s detailed ledgers from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, where Aunt Mill accounted for every penny. The cousins howled as they read that a personal undergarment cost $3.12 back then.

More than once, family members have commented on the very real possibility that Aunt Mill will outlive us all. It was a nice afternoon to gather with first cousins and celebrate the eldest family matriarch.

My Grandma Deaton lived exactly two months shy of 103. Like Aunt Mill, she was sharp until the very end. I think of the things these ladies lived through in their lifetimes. The challenging times as well as the family celebrations that were so special.

Living the Golden Rule has worked quite well for Aunt Mill this last century. I’m thinking her advice remains something for all of us to aspire towards. May her inspiration encourage us all to think and treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Aunt Mill, Aunt Helen and the first cousins who were at the birthday party.

For lessons from a 103-year-old woman, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – when Jesus told the folks to truly treat others the way we want to be treated, he shared these words as more than inspiration. He intended them to be something embraced daily. Thank you for the models we know who help teach us to live this way. May their actions inspire us yet today. Amen.

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