Thursday, July 27, 2023
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Sunday, July 16, 2023
Monday, July 10, 2023
My mother died January 23, 2020. Today, July 10, 2023, I forgave her for all I suffered in the nearly 16 years I provided her care. I’ve forgiven her many times over but this morning the forgiveness reached a new level. I can now look forward to running to her embrace when we meet in Heaven rather than hoping—I am embarrassed to admit this—that her Heavenly mansion is located on the other side of the universe from mine.
Mom lived in our home for over 12 years of her nearly 16-year journey through Alzheimer’s. During the years she was with us at home, I did everything for her. Seasoned caregivers will understand what I mean by “everything.”
We had ten years of relative ease following Mom’s diagnosis during which we enjoyed one another’s company, and she expressed gratitude daily for the blessings of her life. But then, in the latter stages of her disease, she suffered virulent anger toward me. She remained clear-thinking in the moment she was in, and was very good with words, spoken and written. Thus, long after she had lost anchor to reality, she retained the ability to insult and demean. The disease, along with her medication, caused her to be rightly convinced that something was far wrong, but she wrongly concluded that I was to blame. For the last five years of her life, I suffered due to the words she spoke to me and the words she spoke about me to others. In the nursing home, her anger spread to every one of her caregivers. I spent the three years she was in nursing home care visiting her daily and advocating for her because she was often so mean to her care providers that no one at the home liked her, even though her bouts of anger alternated with periods of sweetness that were the accurate reflection of her earlier self. It was a tragedy.
The Lord saw us through. My mother and I made it together to the day the Lord took her home, the day she looked up to the corner of the ceiling and exclaimed, “Such a beautiful face!”
I asked… “Is it Jesus?”
In wondering tones, she replied, “I think so!”
These were the last words we exchanged. She slipped into unconsciousness and never resurfaced, finally passing about 6 hours later.
The Covid lockdowns and recommendations to shelter at home almost immediately following my mother’s death were actually a mercy for me. I had energy only to take care of my home and my family. My strength was gone. Every auto-immune I have (four at last count) flared and drained my energy further. I began medication for high blood pressure.
I’ve recorded the facts of what I have been through but not the sweet sustenance of the presence of my Savior through it all. I was never unable to do what needed to be done, which is a testament of His strength that worked within me. As the old hymn says, “Through it all…I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God…”. I was never alone. God did not magically deliver me from the suffering, but he honed me through it. During the time my mother was sick, I wrote five books. I was not incapacitated. And, as He promised me, I have come out on the other side.
I have suffered many lost days. I am still not whole, and I often feel unwell physically. I don’t know if this will change. I take care of my home, cook for my family, putter in my garden, and write. This is a healing place, and I don’t know how long it will be until I have strength to do much else. But I do know this: today I forgave my mother. I have released her at last to be free of my hurt and blame. This is a good step forward. And the Lord is with me.
Rest in peace, Mama. I look forward to our reunion when we meet again!