A friend wrote on facebook today, “I WISH I HAD MY MOM. I TRULY MISS HER. TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOM CAUSE YOU DONT KNOW HOW LONG YOU HAVE HER.” How true. Some people lose a beloved mother slowly, day by day, and some in an instant.
This message reminded me of one more way God’s abundant blessing rests on me. Regarding mothers, God gave me the best ever mother-in-law and the kind of mom only a kid could dream up.
My mom stayed up many long nights to sew tiny doll clothes from scraps of our dresses, when crops didn’t yield enough money for Christmas presents. She scavenged cardboard boxes and painted 10-foot tall scenic backgrounds for my brother, sister and I to use in farm town talent show competitions. She became an unschooled master at making props for songs like, “She’ll be coming ’round the mountain,” complete with a contraption that pulled an old red rooster across the stage for that verse. She tearfully, but lovingly said good-bye to us and her three precious grandchildren when we left for Africa…twice. Though rejected by her mother when she was five years old and raised by her father, she knows how to love her children and grandchildren.
The few of you who know us, or have read my blog, know that Mom has lived with us for the past eight years, bowls three games a day in senior leagues, four days a week and generally amazes everyone who meets her. Seven years ago she started on the new miracle drug, Namenda, and went from asking the same question five times in five minutes, to never asking the same question twice.
During the last year, the miracle drug has begun losing its miraculous powers. She asks questions many times again, misplaces items, wallpapers her desk with sticky notes, forgets appointments and sleeps a lot during the day and little at night. Yesterday, Mom” discovered” two genealogy books she’d owned for many long years, repeating, “I never saw these before. Where did these come from? These tell both families’ stories!” All the while she alternated between smiling hugely and hugging the books to her chest, sighing contentedly. Her mind forgets so much. But I still have her.
Growing up on the farm, our small family of five moved irrigation pipes on the 40 acre farm together, hoed weeds from the row crops together, made HUGE pots of spicy, eye-watering chili outside together, always pitching in to get a job done. Mom used to see me cooking dinner and immediately begin setting the table. Now I ask her if she feels up to setting the table and she always does. It just doesn’t occur to her nowadays. But I still have her.
While living with us, Mom used to load and unload the dishwasher so that when I came home from work, one less job greeted me. Now, she sets her dishes in the sink or leaves them in her sitting room. But I still have her.
Mom’s favorite entertainment, other than bowling, came when she could get in the car and take us for a long ride just to see the beautiful countryside. She loved to drive. Now the doctor has asked her not to drive, while she is on this 18-month Phase III trial of an investigational drug for Alzheimer’s. Truth be told, she’ll never drive again, so someone else will always take her everywhere. But I still have her.
I thank God I still have her to bring me a cup of cold water at midnight because, as she said during my recent bout with stomach flu, “You’ll need that to wash out your mouth after you throw up the next time!” I’m 57, but who could turn down such an offer or fail to thank God laughing out loud at the absurdity of a 94-year-old mom who cares so much and thinks of such small kindnesses?
I thank God to hear her praise me for navigating my way around Portland (with my GPS…thank you, children) to chauffeur her to doctor appointments… me, born directionally dyslexic to a laughable extreme.
I thank God that she faithfully reads her Daily Bread and Bible verses each morning and STILL God teaches her new things from His Word. He sticks closer than a brother…or anyone else, even through the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
I thank God for her ear-to-ear smile while watching a favorite TV show, reminiscing over her computer screensaver slide show of pictures on her desktop, or sorting through mounds and mounds of musty photos that she intends to put in albums.
I thank God to see her stand in the sun, painstakingly picking spent blooms off the yellow pansies with brownish angels at the center, her favorite. “More blooms will come if you remember to take off the old ones,” she reminds me.
I thank God to see her sitting, flamboyant, red-hatted, enjoying an old-fashioned company picnic in the park with us and a granddaughter, eating hotdogs and cheese curls, drinking soda and cheering for runs batted in.
Most of all, I thank God that when death does physically part us, we will meet on the other side. I will cry at our parting, but we will meet on that beautiful shore. He will wipe away every tear, no doubt about it! They’ll be no more dying there…we are going to see the King. Hallelujah, hallelujah, we are going to see the King!
“Blessed are the dead who die in the LORD…” Revelation 14:13, (NIV). Blessed indeed are we!