Where is Home?

I learned so many lessons as I helped care for Mom. Sometimes people with dementia speak with profound wisdom. Or maybe God is sending a message through them. I remember one day, being amazed by the clarity of truth in Mom’s words…,

Mama was sitting in her rocking chair, in the house she’d lived in for over fifty years, when she said, “I want to go home.”

She said this often. So instead of explaining to her again that she was home, I tried a different approach. I asked, “Where is home, Mom?” And without pondering or delay Mom spoke such clear words of discernment, that I still marvel at them.

“Home is where they want you,” she replied.

I was so struck by this response that it took me a minute or so to reassure Mom that of course we wanted her here. I don’t actually think she was looking for reassurance though. And I’m still not sure if she even knew exactly what she was saying.

But what an insightful definition—home is where they want you. It rings true to my heart. Home is where you feel comfortable and wanted. Or at least where you should feel that way.

It reminds me how important it is to live life in a way that shows people how wanted they are. Because we all want to be wanted. We all need to be wanted.

And what a comfort to remember that we all ARE wanted.

We can know this because Jesus says in John 14:1-3 (NLT) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me, where I am.”

Everyone is wanted. All who put their trust in Jesus have an eternal home. Jesus wants us with Him. Always. The Creator of the universe wants us with Him so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins. We are wanted. We are loved incredibly.

On this earth some people are homeless. But in eternity no one has to be. Home is where they want you. And we are all wanted.

My precious Mama is Home with Jesus now. We miss her here, but she is wanted there. She is home. And we will all be Home together someday.

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Blurry Banana Bread Recipe

I don’t know if it’s human nature, or just mine, but there was a part of me that wanted to remain in denial about Mom’s Alzheimer’s. After all, even the experts say you can’t know for sure until an autopsy is done. And some days Mom would seem almost normal.

But other days, the confusion would be so obvious that there was no plausible deniability of disease. And some days what we’d lost already, contrasted sharply against what we’d once had. And it became the time of bittersweet tears.

One of these times was the night the banana bread recipe make me cry…

 

Source: Blurry Banana Bread Recipe

Mama’s New Grandchild

Today marks seven months since Jesus took Mama home. It also marks eight days since Mama’s youngest grandchild was born.

It’s been a bittersweet time for me. When my brother gave me the news that he and his wife had a healthy baby girl, I was elated! And then very soon I was in tears. Because Mama so loved babies! I’ve become a grandma twice myself in the last 22 months, and I know there is nothing like it!

I called Dad and told him I was going out to buy sweet girl things for the baby, before I went to the hospital for a visit. (They hadn’t wanted to know ahead of time the baby’s gender, so everything was generic at the showers.) I told him I wanted to buy some gifts to be from him and Mom, too. Because Mom would have done that. He agreed and told me to take as much money as I needed.

I looked in my daughter’s baby book. I saw the photo of Mom and Dad holding my little one, looking at her adoringly. I read the list of things Mama had bought for her. I blinked back tears and went shopping, looking for things Mama would give her grandchild…looking for things I would give my niece. I bought lots of tiny, adorable pink things.

I choked up several times, and blinked back tears, as I shopped and wrapped and drove to the hospital. And then I held my precious niece, so tiny and perfect, and all I could do then was smile! Babies have that effect on me. Holding a sleeping baby puts me in my happy place, and sadness evaporates, at least for those moments.

The next day I held the wee one again, when my brother and his wife stopped to visit Dad with her. Dad’s eyes are so bad he can’t see faces, but I asked Dad if he wanted to hold his grandchild. “Yes,” he said. “I want to hold her hand.” I arranged the baby in his arms and helped him find her tiny fingers. And he sat that way, for a long while, holding his granddaughter, while her little fingers clung to his big one.

I wondered what he was thinking. I blinked back some tears again, wishing Mama could enjoy this little one as well and wishing this baby wasn’t missing out on knowing her.

The next day I drove Dad to a doctor’s appointment. As we were driving he said, “You know yesterday when I was holding the baby’s hand?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“I was wishing Mom could be there to hold her. You know how much she loved babies.”

“Yes, she did. I was wishing the same thing.”

“But then I thought if that book, Heaven Is for Real, is right, there are babies in heaven. Remember how the little boy met his sister who had miscarried, and he hadn’t even known about her before that?”

“Yes, I do remember that.”

Well,” Dad said, “If that’s right, then Mom has lots of babies to hold in heaven.”

“That’s true, Dad,” I said, through tears. “That’s a beautiful thought. I love that!”

And I do love that thought. I think of two of my own babies, lost through miscarriage. I guess I don’t know if babies stay babies in heaven or not, but I’m assuming they grow up. My children would be older now then, but they are with Mom!

And my nephew and his wife had some miscarriages in the last few years….I picture Mama loving caring for her great-grandchildren in paradise with Jesus! I take such comfort in these thoughts.

Mama is not alone. She is surrounded by loved ones and friends in the presence of Jesus! She has babies to cherish and hold. And I have to think Jesus would let her know about her new granddaughter.

Meanwhile, back here on earth, I’ll try to be the best auntie I can be and tell this little one all about her Grandma Nina! My brother assures me I’m in the starting line-up for babysitting.

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Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the Storms

It’s happening more often these days. It happened tonight. My 94 year old mother-in-law bowed her head and put her hand to her forehead and sat that way, looking perplexed. “Are you okay, Eunice?” I asked.

“I’m confused,” she says.

“What are you confused about?”

“I don’t know where I am, or how I got here.”

“Well,” I say, “this is where you’ve lived for over two years now. You live here with your son, Jeff and me. I’m Jeff’s wife, Cheryl.”

She looks at me and nods, but doesn’t seem reassured. She puts her hand on her bowed forehead and again says, “I’m so confused.” My heart goes out to her. I pray with her and that seems to give her a little comfort.

Eunice was a strong and very intelligent woman. She knew the names of hundreds of children she worked with through the years at church. She knew every verse of probably a hundred hymns by heart. She read profusely, completed crossword and jigsaw puzzles faithfully, and sewed quilts beautifully.

But now she looks at her son and some days asks, “Who are you?”

“I’m your son, Jeff. You’re my mom.”

“I’m your mom?” she says with disbelief, and laughs.

The confusion is showing up more frequently. It reminds me of my own mama’s journey with Alzheimer’s, except I don’t remember Mom ever actually saying that she was confused. But she would very often say, “I want to go home!” Even though she was still in the same home she’d lived in for over 50 years. And she would holler and say, “Mama! Mama where are you?”

My own Mama passed on to Jesus this past December. It was a challenging journey through Alzheimer’s with her. And now we are on another one with my mother-in-law. A reader liked an old Facebook post I’d shared in 2014 today. When I saw the notification I reread the post and it reminded me of lessons I learned back then, that I need again now.

Here is the gist of it….

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for later, so I go over early to give Mom her bath. Afterwards I sit by Mom on the love seat, and the rain begins to pour, and the thunder claps, when she says, “You are me and I am you.”
I’m not sure how to respond to that. So I say, “I love you, Mama”
“I love you, too,” Mama sweetly answers. A bit later she stares at my face and abruptly asks, “Who are you?”
“I’m Cheryl.”
“Who are you?” she immediately asks again.
“I’m Cheryl.”
“Oh,” Mom smiles, “YOU’RE Cheryl.”
“Yep, I’m Cheryl. Who are you?”
“I’m Nina Fay.”
“You’re Nina Fay. Do you love me?”
“Well,” Mom says cheerfully, “I used to.”  
I’ve noticed a scratch on her arm and so I rub some ointment on it while I tell Mom what I’m doing. She says, “Bless your little heart!”  

 

There’s a break in the thunderstorm, so I get up to leave. Mom gets upset and urgently shouts, “Stay here! Stay here!” She’s never done that with me before, so I settle back down next to her. She seems reassured and she pats my arm and tries to rub away my freckles.

And I think now what a strange conversation Mama and I’ve had. And I know a few years ago it would have broken my heart. Well, actually something similar did I’m sure. Alzheimer’s is a journey of heart breaks.

But please hear this…God keeps healing the brokenness and the cracks. His love seeps in and soothes and repairs and heals until you find out that your heart is much stronger than you ever thought it could be.

And on this unwanted journey, God keeps raining grace on us. He gives strength to get through the day. He sends lessons we would have learned no other way. He gives tender moments and smiles that are more precious seen through the pain.

My dad was just saying today, as we heard the thunderstorm crackling overhead, that he liked to sit out on the porch during storms so he could hear the power. I know what he means. God is powerful and mighty and there is something about a thunderstorm that reminds us of that.

And there is something about walking through Alzheimer’s with a loved one that reminds me of His power, too. Because I know I couldn’t bear it without Him. I know He is surrounding us with His love and growing us in new ways. I know He is with us through it all.

So I can sing the words of a favorite song of mine, (by Casting Crowns) with confidence and faith, “I will praise You in this storm….”
“……And every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hand. You never left my side. And though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.”

He is so good. He is worthy of our praise!

 
I’m so thankful I read this today. It reminds me how faithful God is. He was with us through the Mama storms. He will be with us through the mama-in-law ones, too.
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