We had a family gathering this past weekend in Florida—the wedding of a nephew. On my way to the wedding I stopped by to see my mom who has been suffering for the past several years with Alzheimers. All of you reading this, that know a person you love suffer from dementia or Alzheimers, know how horrible it is to see a life fade away like this.
My mother is now non-ambulatory, non-verbal and rarely responds at all. I sat with her for fifteen minutes, hoping she would open her eyes, smile, wink her eye….anything.
I prayed for her; I thanked God for her; I asked God to let her pass in peace as soon as possible and release her in heaven to become the happy, vibrant, talkative, entertaining mother and friend she used to be. My mom is now 91 years old, but she never wanted to leave the world in this manner. It is the one thing she dreaded more than anything else: being unable to care for herself.
Many campers and staff knew my mom—they called her “Nan”. She made thousands of cookies for our nightly Bible studies. She loved selflessly. She gave beyond what
was prudent to give. Nan was always the one that brought laughter and joy into a room. She loved to tell funny stories and attempted to tell jokes, but she never could remember the “punch line” at the end of the joke—-but that somehow made the laughter at the end of her joke all the more uproarious!
My mother also had a testy side to her. She was fiercely protective of her children. Pity the person that spoke despairingly of any of the kids! She was never sick, never slept late,
and absolutely would not tolerate coarse, profane or inappropriate conversation. She would not put up with bragging, unkindness or rudeness. She expected too much from us, we sometimes complained…..and we are all better children because of her lofty expectations.
Nan won’t be with us too much longer and the world is already a bit poorer because of her gradual demise. So why did I go, and why do my other siblings go and visit this
little old lady who can neither talk, or hold our hand or feel or caresses? Because that’s how she raised us. We weren’t brought up to do what was convenient, or self-serving,
or always pleasant! We were taught to believe that “what comes around goes around," and that we should honor and respect our parents—-even old, feeble, demented parents.
Being with my mom reminded me of who she was, what she expected of me, the sacrifices she made for me so that I could succeed, the joy that comes from seeing those you
love over-come set-backs, etc. If there are good things in my character most can be traced back to what she said, did and demanded from me.
I am not a trained expert in family counseling, but I do believe that many parents don’t demand great things from their children and thus later complain that “society”, a bad coach, an unfair teacher, a rude police officer, etc, has caused their child to fail. “Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” My mother knew her Bible and knew right from wrong. I am a blessed son.