Sunday, March 14, 2010

All God's Critter's Got A Place...

The title of this post is from a song my children sang years ago as members of the junior choir in our little Methodist church. The lyrics point out that everything and everyone God created have a unique role to fulfill, and if even one of those voices is ignored, we are all impoverished. Paul says much the same in 1 Corinthians 12, when he tells us that all of the members of the Body of Christ have important roles. No matter our age or stage of development, when we belong to the Lord we still have an anointed role to play for the greater good. This week, a couple of incidents reminded me of this truth.

One afternoon, my grandson, Daniel, was standing at one of his favorite perches; atop an antique lard box pushed up to the bay window in Mom's room. Little elbows resting on the window seat, he likes to lounge there and watch the outdoor cats stalk the birds at the feeder just outside the window. On this day, Daniel was watching as a downpour of rain fell from a leaden sky. Suddenly he pointed to the floor behind the couch that sits in front of the window and said, "Ah oh!"

Now, Daniel talks constantly, with both meaningful and nonsensical strings of intonations intermixed. It would have been easy to ignore him. But his mother, out of her respect for him as the intelligent little guy he is, pulled out the couch to check out what Daniel saw. Water was leaking around the window and had formed a puddle on the floor. It was a blessing that we discovered the leak when we did, before the sitting water had time to cause the floor to warp, or continued in its path to the middle of the floor where it could have caused Mom to slip and fall. On this day Daniel, just turned two, made a valuable contribution to our family's welfare by calling our attention to the leak.

Just a few hours later, my mother mentioned that the heater in her room didn't seem to be working. Mom mentions the room temperature often, and it is difficult to keep the thermostat at a level that provides her perfect comfort. She doesn't think to remove her lap robe or to find a sweater; her first mode of attempting to correct the slightest discomfort is to call me. On this day I did not feel cold in her room and assumed that, as usual, she was was being a little bit over sensitive to feeling a tad chilly. However, I did check the thermostat for her, and it's a good thing I did. Somehow, the the setting had gotten pushed down to 55 degrees. Daniel was probably the culprit--at the time we placed the thermostat just a couple of feet off the floor, we were not thinking about the fact that placing it out of reach of the Alzheimer patient would put it in easy reach of the toddler who had not yet arrived on the scene. With the apartment temperature set 20 degrees cooler than usual, Mom really had valid cause for complaint!

The lesson for me as a caregiver is that I must not dismiss my mother's comments and observations as being unimportant. Her thoughts, feelings, and observations still have value. Sometimes, when a loved one becomes infirm, we are so hurt by the fact that they can no longer be to us what they once were, that we fail to value the role they still can play. At some point Mom's ability to "sing in the choir" may become limited to a squeeze of my hand or a grateful look that says, "You are loved." I pray for grace to continue to value the place my Mom still occupies in our family, even as her physical and mental capacities decrease.

Nice Midi of "All God's Critter's" here.... Be patient--the intro sounds simple but then it blossoms into a really fun rendition.


  1. Hard to remember they are in there. But than sometimes you can't help but notice it. Mom told me she was sorry yesterday. I don't know why but she does. So I hugged her and said it was ok.

  2. Even though we think that they are 'gone' they really aren't. Somehow they will let us know what they need. Thank goodness for little Daniel and the water leak. What a disaster that would have been.