Monday, October 15, 2012

Growing in Love

Today was a good day.   For one thing, the weather was just gorgeous.  A beautiful sunny fall day, it felt good to be outside a bit.  We watched as a neighbor had two of her big old trees cut down and enjoyed looking at the pink/orange/red leaves on our own maple trees. 

Mama had a good day, too.   She was feeling well enough to get out a bit.   We had a nice dinner together this evening with lots of conversation and laughter.  And tonight we were able to sit down and do some planning for her future.  I think she is feeling pretty comfortable with what we came up with.  

We are learning how to communicate with her better.  Rather than getting frustrated with her, we need to have some humor.  If we need to encourage her to see something in a different way, we are learning that we need to have eye contact and be truthful and direct without being demeaning.     

The other day a friend told me she would be praying for my affection to grow for Mama.  I see those prayers being answered daily.  I was thinking today about how long it's been since I've had an older person in my life.  It's been nearly 20 years since my own mother died and there just hasn't been anyone else.  So I'm really starting to enjoy having her here.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Loving the Lost and Lonely

One week ago today we began a new journey.  We drove the 1200+ mile round trip to Mississippi and back to bring home Mama, my husband's 72-year-old mother.  She has lived most of her life in the same house, in the same small town, yet was terribly, tragically alone.  No family.  No friends.  No one to go out of their way to visit.  There are many reasons for her aloneness in a place where her face is familiar to most.  She has alienated anyone who has tried to befriend her and has refused our visits for most of the past 4 years, locked away inside a confused, terrifying state of delusion.  She has spent her life a revolving door, in and out of relationships, in and out of mental hospitals and in and out of reality.  Yet later in life she spent 14 years caring for her own aging mother, devoted to meeting her every need.   After Nanny died, things went downhill quickly.  The loss of a beloved pet and the death of the only neighbor who kept in touch left her with too many days, hours and minutes to drift into an obsessive, ruminating fog.  I don't say these things in a critical way, it is simply the reality of this situation we find ourselves in.

So this morning she sits at the kitchen table, just as she does most days, quietly staring out the back window and doing puzzles. Over the past few days the compulsive talking, the telling and retelling of stories filled with paranoia, anxiety and the list of wrongs perpetrated on her over the past 30+ years has finally quieted down.  She is still having sleepless nights but seems more content. 

Being that alone, no matter what the cause, cannot be good for anyone.  To see familiar faces in the community that turn away, to spend days on days in a home where there are no other voices, no visitors and only memories of abuse and dysfunction would be an unthinkable way to live the last years of one's life.

I can't help but wonder how many others there are like her.  The rejected ones.  The ones who for whatever reason are the undesireable ones.  The ones who have been sent to the far reaches of loved ones' minds and forgotten.  I only know that there is this one, this mother.  And she is here.  I want so much to demonstrate the kind of love and devotion shown by Ruth to Naomi, to show the kind of compassion and grace that Jesus did.  I am weak - we both are merely human.  I know it will be difficult.  I know there will be many challenges.  But I also know that we are not alone in this. 

Nothing comes into our lives that is not filtered through the hands of a Loving Father.  God does not call us to something without giving us what we need to carry it out.  So I am keeping my eyes and my heart fixed on him.  We are praying the confusing fog will clear and the tortured memories will fade. We are praying that peace will come for all of us. 


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV)

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.  James 1:27 (The Message)