Photo from SBS News
Photo from SBS News

My normal (which is abnormal for many) posts are about issues that surround the western church and its successes and more often, its failures when it comes to being a part of the Kingdom of God.  In fact, my “default” category for every post includes “Kingdom of God”.  But this morning I unchecked that category and selected only one category:  “Personal”.  Like music, writing helps me create “white space” where I can listen more clearly to God and regain the focus that is essential for life in God’s Kingdom.  But today is personal.

This week has been a “different” week, sorta like the past few weeks.  Normally Monday is the day I really focus on further developing and tweaking my “next Sunday’s” sermon.  Wednesday is the day I need to finish information for the bulletin notes and the ProPresenter slides for that message.  But Monday was spent at the hospital because my wife Debbie was having another arteriogram due to recurring chest pains.  She has 8 stents and one heart attack under her belt.  So no office time for me Monday.  Oh, by the way, no additional blockages!  Thank and Praise the Lord!  So it wasn’t until Thursday that I was able to finish the tasks related to The Proclamation of God’s Word on Sunday.  (Great staff and volunteers who show me so much grace).

Needless to say Thursday was “crunch time” with many tasks to complete.  After I finished my tasks, I left the office for another journey to Mitchell-Hollingsworth Rehab Center where my Mother is currently residing.  After a brief stay at the hospital we received the “official” diagnosis.  We knew she was experiencing severe dementia and her needs were far more that Dad and us could provide at home.  The official diagnosis is Subcortical Vascular Cognitive Impairment.  A big scary name for something scarier–mini strokes.  Probably hundreds over the past few years, according to the doctor.  Every time one of them occurs, a bit of her brain dies.  And it seems their frequency is more often.

This has been one of, if not my most difficult journey.  Excuse me, back to yesterday.  As I went to see her because I love her, and to give Dad the opportunity to slip out without her noticing so she doesn’t start crying (they’ve been married almost 73 years), she was eating.  I took over helping her so Dad could slip out.  She was telling me her Mother and Daddy had been to visit today and hoped they got home OK.  He died in the last 60’s and she died in the early 90’s.  As I continued to assist her eating, she looked up in a rare lucid moment and said, “Daddy’s dead, isn’t he.”  And when she asked about her Mother, I said, “She’s home.”  And she is at home, in heaven; a place I hope my Mother will soon be (as cruel as that may sound).

Well, here I go rambling again.  I’m doing that a lot here lately.  This week one of those I serve, well actually Barbara serves me maybe more than I do her (well maybe we serve each other, that sounds like something Jesus really approves of) left me her latest edition of Guideposts and an article marked for me.  It was titled Grace, Gratitude & Faith by Jeff Bjorck.  Click here to read the article.  It is the story of his journey with his Mother into the dark realm of dementia.

It is a timely gift to me.  One of his lessons was to Make A Lot Out Of A Little.  And as I was feeding her I had a memory of something I don’t remember.  That makes a lot of sense!  The memory of what I don’t remember was all about her taking the time to feed me when I was an infant and then as a toddler, teaching me how to feed myself.  And now, less than a month from being 62 years OLD here I am feeding her and helping teach her how to feed herself.

And as sad as that feeling was to me, I remembered another point Jeff made:  Grow Gratitude.  I then tried to imagine what she must have felt as I was unable to feed myself.  The incredible love.  And then trying to teach me to feed myself.  My, what messes I must have made.  But out of love she was in the process of helping me to grow and become a responsible adult.

Now the roles are reversed, except that part of teaching her to become a responsible adult.  I find myself living in and living out those lessons she taught me without me being aware of them or even remembering them.  I am getting to pay her back for all she has done for me–and for this I am truly grateful.

Oh, I’m still angry that Abba hasn’t called her home, and still angry that I am grieving the loss of Mother before she even dies; and that will be another grief for me to face.  But I cannot imagine the grief that Dad feels right now.  So I also focus the love toward him as we walk this dark valley together.  But for now, I cherish the memories I have, even those I can’t remember…