Monday, September 22, 2014

Even to Your Old Age

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in April of 2004 and is ninety years old.  Sometimes she behaves badly, and I've conditioned myself to attribute behaviors that would once have been categorized as sinful as now being just symptoms of her disease. That perspective is mostly accurate. Brain damage, confusion, physical discomfort, and frustration can cause temper outbursts and angry responses that do need to be accepted as disease symptoms.

However, I have to be careful not to interact with my mother only as a patient. She is still in possession of a living faith in God. She is still a human being, and thus is capable of sinful behaviors. And, as the following account reveals, she is still capable of conviction by the Holy Spirit that results in repentance. 

Mom had tried to reach me on her chair-side phone, and although I was just in the next room, I was on another call. So, my phone service sent her to my voice mail. Oh how I try to keep mom from ever getting that voice mail message, because it makes her angry every time.  I've re-recorded the message numerous times so that the current version features a placating, almost pleading tone of voice that assures callers I'll be back to them just as soon as I possibly can, but to no avail. Receiving a recorded message when she had hoped, as she always says, for a "live human voice" triggers vindictive anger in my mother, and in certain moods she will try to get even with me for the vexation this causes.  It took me a few minutes to finish with the other call, and in the interim Mom wrote in her journal, "I'm trying to think of something that will really upset Linda."  Her solution was to scream and pour her diet coke out onto the floor, and when I ran into the room she cut loose with a tirade of vindictive words. She said that for the rest of her life she would do everything she could to torture me and make me miserable.

She was trying to hurt my heart and although I remained calm and did not show it outwardly, she accomplished her goal. I went out of the room and prayed. I called two friends and asked them to pray for Mom. I then sat in a chair just outside her doorway and prayed some more. When I heard her crying I entered the room.

She was repeating, "Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me!" When she saw me she said, "I've always had this problem with pride and I am asking God's forgiveness, do you think it is too late?"

I assured her it was not. We prayed together. My heart felt the solace of Mom's sincere regret; although she had forgotten she had lashed out at me, she was remorseful because the Holy Spirit had convicted her of sin.  I assured her that the Lord had forgiven her, and in my heart I forgave her as well.

The best preparation anyone can make for the possibility of an Alzheimer diagnosis in the future is to nurture a relationship with the Lord in the present. It is incredible to me how the Lord continues to speak to my mother even in these difficult final years of her journey through Alzheimer's; Mom's faith is alive and well even though her thinking ability has been profoundly compromised.  God does not ever leave us or abandon us. We can trust Him to work in our minds and hearts until the day He releases us from these broken bodies and brings us home. 

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" -- Isaiah 46:4


  1. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for the powerful message of how the Lord is always with us.

  2. This is such a comforting post knowing that God is still working in your mother's heart even though her mind is not working well. Praise God for His grace being displayed in your response.

  3. I'm sorry about your pain Linda. Praying for relief. Thank you for sharing this message with your readers. ~ Abby