“I wanted to go forward for children’s time, but I thought I might embarass her,” she said, pointing at Pastor Carole. “I would have said ‘I’m two — a hundred and two!’” Gertrude smiled at me. I’d been hearing stories about her for a week, but this was my first change to meet the little fireball. She was wearing a pink floral dress and almost reached my shoulder. She’d come up to me after the church service, grabbed my hand and started talking.

“You should have come on up,” I responded. “How about next week?”

The smile deepened. “Do you dare me?”

“Yes. I dare you.”

Gertrude’s birthday was Wednesday. For her 102nd birthday, she called the pastor to have lunch — OUTSIDE in the nearly 102 degree heat. She lives on her own and apparently likes to hitch “rides” with any congregant walking by. She takes an arm and strolls right along.

“May God bless your family,” she said as we walked toward the door. “May God give you joy — we all need more joy in our lives.”

I think joy found me in the form of a 102-year-old child.

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