You Do?

Mama cuddles up next to me on the love seat. “I love you, Mama,” I say.

Mom turns her head and looks up at me with delight and surprise, “You do?” she asks.

“Yes, I really do.”

“Goody!” Mama exclaims cheerily. And I chuckle as she promptly dozes off to sleep.

Mama doesn’t know who I am, which is why she’s so surprised to hear I love her. But she seems happy to know that I do and is accepting of my love.

And it makes me think, how God loves all His children. But people don’t know who He is, so they don’t comprehend His love.

And even people who do know Him, can’t truly grasp His love. In Ephesians 3:19 Paul says he’s praying for the church there to “…know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…”

Jesus love us more than we can understand. His love passes knowledge. Passes knowledge. Imagine a love so great that knowledge can’t contain it or explain it. It is beyond what we know. It is bigger and deeper and more powerful than we can read or write or paint or sing about! It passes knowledge!

And that’s the kind of love Jesus has for us. For each of us. And all we have to do is believe in Him and accept His love. Accept it with delight and with joy. And then stay close to Him, follow Him, and rest in His love.

Because He loves you.

He really does.

Learning Sweet Silence

Sometimes it’s better to not say much. Talking with Mama seems to agitate her more often than not these days.

I’ll ask her, “How are you today, Mom?”
And she will shout back with attitude, “OKAY!”

So I’m learning to not ask many questions. And I’m trying to talk less. And I’m learning to just sit close to Mama and see what she wants to do with our visit.

I’m finding out sometimes she has questions of her own. Like the other day she abruptly asks, “How old are you?”
“I’m fifty-five.”
“Oh, my goodness!” Mama says. (My thoughts exactly!)
“I’m Sherry.”
“Sherry Lynn,” Mama quietly mumbles. And I rejoice at this connection.

Mama cuddles up next to me and puts her head on my shoulder. She grows still and dozes off. She is content. And so am I.

And though I love the power of questions and words and stories, sometimes silence is more comforting. Sometimes just being together, leaning on each other, is the best kind of communication.

A Love Message to Everybody…Just About

Mama has a message for you. Well, most of you anyway…

I sit down near Mom and say, “Hi Mama. I’m Cheryl.” She doesn’t respond so I add, “My name is Cheryl.”

“My name is Cheryl,” Mom answers. She looks confused and then adds, “Cheryl? No it’s not.”

“I’m Cheryl and you’re Nina.”

“I’m Nina Fay!” Mom shouts, with decisiveness and conviction.

We listen to some music together and then I get up to do some things for Dad. Before I leave I bend close to Mama and say, “I love you.”

Mom looks a little grouchy and says, “Well, I love everybody.”

“You love everybody?”

“Just about.”

And I think about Mama when her mind was strong, and know that it was true. She did love just about everybody. She knew everyone in our neighborhood, and was always one to go introduce herself to new neighbors and welcome them.

She knew the manager of the corner market, and traded him banana bread for ripe bananas. She called family all the time, even though most of them were long distance at a time when long distance was expensive. And she kept in touch with old friends even though they lived on the other side of the country.

I miss Mama’s love. I miss her knowing who I am and knowing my name. I miss her smile of recognition. I miss her laughter, so often buried under agitation and shouting these days.

But I cling to the truth, that because she gave her heart to Jesus, all will be restored one day. I will see her smile again. I will hear her laughter again. I will see her look at me with recognition and clarity once more! And I will know Mama’s love for eternity!

And meanwhile, I thank you, my friends and readers, for standing in the gap for me. Thank you for your encouragement, love, and prayers! You have warmed my heart often with your messages and I’m more grateful for you than I can say!!

And remember, Mama loves you all. Or, just about anyway. 😉

I Know You Do

Some days there just seems to be so little I can do. And I wonder if I’m helping at all. And then somehow Mama, in the middle of dementia, says just the right thing to bless me…

I lean close to Mama as she sits in her rocking chair and say, “Hi, Mama.”

She looks right at me and says, “I don’t know who you are.”

“I’m Cheryl.”

Dad looks likes he’s dozing and I know if I talk with Mom I may disrupt him, so I go and sit across the room. Mom doesn’t turn to face me. She keeps looking at the door and the picture on the wall. She occasionally says random things.

Dad wakes up after a few minutes and I give him the prescription I’ve picked up for him. He seems anxious to catch the news on television, so I sit by Mom a few minutes and help her eat one of the homemade cookies I’ve brought over.

Dad has the volume so loud I can’t really talk. And often these days when I do talk with Mom it seems to agitate her. I decide to leave so Dad can watch his program in peace. I say, “Good-bye Mama. I love you.”

And she answers, “I know you do.”

And I cling to that.

Because lately it feels like there is so little I can do to connect with Mom. And it grieves me to think that my visiting with her often riles her, when all I want to do is surround her with peace and joy.

Alzheimer’s is a continuing journey of learning and challenges and tears. It draws me into a deeper reliance on God and His grace. What a comfort to know, that even when Mama doesn’t know my name, God always will.

And even though I can’t always comfort Mama or be with her, God is always, constantly watching over her.

And God is with me, too. And He knows my heart. And He collects my tears and records them in His book. (Psalm 56:8)

And I call out in prayer and say, “I don’t know what to do, Lord. I’m not sure how to help. But I love You and I love Mama and Dad.”

And I picture Him smiling and gently saying, “I know you do.”