As we entered through the door this past Monday, the memories stung deeply, piercing my heart with a sudden brokenness. This was one of those times that God presents us with situations where we have no time to prepare ourselves or we would never have entered through the door. The best we can do is rely on the Hope we have in Christ! Which is always sufficient.
The memories that struck me so hard were those of my dad who had Alzheimer’s disease. A gruesome and disabling disease that becomes more and more disabling; robbing the person of any abilities to care for themselves and of all of their dignity. It is painful to watch the progression of the disease disable a person until death overtakes them. The peace I now find in my Dad’s (2007) death was my dad’s devotion to Jesus Christ; because of this I know he is in a better place and he is now free of pain and suffering.
On this past Monday we were on our way to visit a member of the church who was in the nursing home. I did not know, thankfully, ahead of time we would be visiting him in the “Dementia/Alzheimer’s ward”. Which is an area of the nursing home that has controlled entrances because people with Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease are a flight risk. I say thankfully, because it would have been harder for me to enter the area if I new where we were going and that would have been a disgrace to Jesus Christ who commanded us to care for our neighbors,the sick, and the lonely just as He did.
But the memories were vivid, I saw similarities in the man we were visiting and my dad. Shallow similarities to the man I knew still existed but like my dad they were overshadowed by the character of the disease. And I saw its progression or rather its manifestation. The man we were visiting that day I hadn’t seen in maybe three or four months and I didn’t know he now had Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, it has a firm hold on him now.
It is easy to be disheartened seeing someone overcome by such a horrid disease as Alzheimer’s. Gravely, since Monday, I have been disturbed by suppressed memories since visiting my friend from church. Memories of: guilt, questions of did I do enough for my father, of inevitability, and to question why there is such a disease in the first place. I was in quite a state on the Tuesday and the following days-shaken at the memories of my dad, worried and terrified. But even in such a state of dismay Scripture tells us we need to be otherwise and in times such as these Scripture is our solace, comforting us. Scriptures passages about God’s special love for those who appear weak and foolish in the eyes of the world suggest that Alzheimer’s patients can be powerful conduits of grace in our lives, if we have eyes to see. Such as I experienced with my dad.
Approaching the final days of my Dad’s life I arranged for a Priest from my Dad’s parish to came and give him his last rights. Alzheimer’s had completely incapacitated my Dad. But something amazing happened as the Priest stood at the foot of Dad’s bed. My Dad bolted upright into a sitting position in bed, an incapable task for sometime to be done without assistance and dad was alert and followed along with the Priest. Even attempting to make the sign of the cross. Dad knew he was receiving his last rights providing him with permission to surrender his life on earth.
Because of Grace! God’s Grace on that day, He showed me that my Dad’s life wasn’t ending! It was merely being transformed from the one here on Earth to the one the LORD has created for those who love and believe in Him in heaven.
Christ be With you! And with you Father!
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