My mother speaks in scripts now. She bears the look of the very old. Clouded eyes and clouded mind. Alzheimer’s? The doctor said sometimes it’s impossible to know until an autopsy.
I am my mother’s keeper. I see her daily decline. Yesterday she knew to put on underwear, but not today. Sometimes I see glimpses of who she used to be. The ready smile. The chuckle. These are precious moments.
And these are wearying days. The smell of urine that greets me when I open her bedroom door first thing in the morning. The fear I will walk in and find her dead…and the fear the end will not come that smoothly and suddenly. The same conversation again and again…and again.
In the bathroom, after I have rubbed her back with the long-handled brush: “I remind myself of the horses. After Bill and I had curried them down, they would rub against the post just to say, ‘You missed a spot.'” “Those are fun memories for you,” I say.
And then, “You’re so kind to me, Carol.” “That’s because I love you,” I respond. “Well, you show me that, darlin’, in a bazillion ways everyday.” “That’s good,” I answer, “That’s what I want to do.”
And then I scream, silently, behind the blue blanket as I hold it up before draping it over her lap, because we have had that exact exchange no less than twelve times while moving from the bathroom to her chair in the next room. And then I smile at her as I tuck it in around her legs.
I cherish these days. In them, I experience the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for me. And for my mother.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
Mother’s script now is a good one, but it hasn’t always been so. We passed through a season of belligerence and irritation and anger. Thank goodness those days are mostly gone.
“I am very blessed,” she says now. “Yes, we are very blessed,” I agree, “More blessed than we even know.”
She used to read her Bible every morning. Now I read the scripture to her. Often she joins in, from memory. I see the beauty of a lifetime of experience with God. I see the comfort it brings her and the joy of the Lord being her strength, and mine.
One morning we read John 6:40, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Even her tired mind could understand the great love there. And that the work is His. We marveled at His grace and goodness to give us eternal life and all the blessings that go with it. Our part? To look and believe. I could tell she had something else to say.
“And that is precious little to ask in return.”
God’s grace is sufficient. It carries both my mother and me into the unknown with peace and confidence and gratitude.
How can I not be the most grateful of all persons, to get to see and experience the grace and blessings of God in this situation, as I have in every other stage of my life?
There are more stories and more blessings but they are for another blog. For now, look for the ways his grace is sufficient for you today. And if you have a moment to pray for my mother, I would be very grateful.