Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the power of words and song

Every morning I pick up a turquoise blue journal with the words, "With God Everything Is Possible" etched on the outside front cover. It is a journal I kept this time last year and it records the every day pithiness of my days as well as those last months and days of my Daddy's life. I am purposely each day reliving those times through the words I wrote over a year ago. It might sound peculiar to someone if they have never actually experienced the death of someone close, someone whom you are responsible for as the main caregiver. But for me it brings a certain realm of peace and surety. Not of completion necessarily, just the provision of the amazing surge of His grace and mercy.

My mother's behavior a year ago caused an anguish of soul that was very difficult for me to bear. I got to the point that even eating became difficult. Her illness along with her circumstances of change and medications had caused her to be very abusive with words. Even though it was necessary for her to live in a facility, due to her proximity I was responsible for her care and upon a daily visit I would leave crying with hurt and not knowing what to do. In the meantime I was also managing my home, my children including homeschooling and very occupied with the care of my bedridden father who was living upstairs dying of cancer. Now why am I recording all this now?  Because I want to convey with total abandon and truth that the thanksgiving, joy and peace that flows from Him is real and I am only made the richer from this seemingly hard thing my life. James 1:3 states, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." It is unexplainable to those who do not know the power of His Holy Spirit as the treasure it is living in these earthen vessels. His grace and mercy is as real to me as what I can clearly see with my eyes. It cups me and holds me close. It strengthens, encourages, and never lets go.

Now it is winter again and I am sitting here with my dear mother. No longer are her words abusive. She is at times as sweet as dripping honey thanking me with her upturned eyes looking into mine. There are  times of great confusion and talking incessantly without really communicating anything. Other times, which are getting more frequent, are bouts of hallucinations. These personally are the most difficult for me.

Yesterday, she was scared. Bringing her comfort with my words did not work, so I went to the piano and I played hymns. Those old hymns of the church, the ones I knew she knew and somewhere they must still be back there in her consciousness. I played those familiar tunes and as I sang those ageless words I could sense His peace pouring into me too. I got up from the piano and went to peek in on her. Her eyes were closed, for awhile anyway.

Joy is not gush; joy is not mere jolliness. 
Joy is perfect acquiescence, acceptance, and rest 
in God's will, whatever comes.
~Amy Carmichael~

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Saturday, February 11, 2012

sweet and bitter

Something is different.

On Thursday Mother had a great day. She had her normal nap for the morning then she woke pleasant and remained so throughout the afternoon. The hospice aides showed up and were able to give her a thorough bath and wash her hair. Then the girls and I had fun "playing" beauty parlor rolling her hair with Charlotte's soft colorful rollers. We all laughed and it was a wonderful memory. We applied the hair dryer on low temperature and then combed out her soft gray tresses. She thought we were fixing her up to take her somewhere. She was so disappointed when that was not the case. We all were.

But for the past two days she has not truly slept, a doze at the best.  This is very unusual for my mother. Sleeping comes easy for her and her normal routine involves sleeping throughout the night with several naps during the day, sometimes even sleeping most of the day and only coming awake for a few select hours.

This morning as I checked on her I realized she is getting less and less responsive and she can not form sentences anymore. She garbles and once in a while she says a word that you understand that has nothing to do with anything. "Fuzzy".  "Important". Her eyes will close and open wide looking around.

I have seen similar behavior before in my father during his last days. It is the same but it is different for every person because individual personalities are still present. As I touched her face this morning, she winces thinking I had put something sharp to her head.

I long to crawl on bed beside her.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

grace links

Now that mother is living with me here at my house she is surrounded by loud talking, the barking of a dog, constant conversation, giggles and laughter, the sound of the piano being played, all ages of people either coming in or leaving through the several doors throughout my house. She lives in the midst of school lessons, the girls squabbling with correction given, the voices of song and appreciations bestowed. She hears the familiar and poetic words of the Psalms as they are read to her by someone sitting in an armchair by her bedside.

Can I even begin to explain the depth of unexpected emotion that squeezed me tightly this afternoon?  I was spooning vanilla pudding from a cup into her partially opened mouth when Rose began playing "Amazing Grace" on the piano. I could have wept with the beauty of that simple moment. Many times I feel as if I can only manage baby steps in the fields of His grace, one small step in front of the other. But those times when the waves of His grace come washing over me it leaves me unabashedly soaring deep and wide.

" He will my shield and portion be...as long as life endures".