Shadows of Alzheimer’s

The shadows of the autumn leaves dance across the blinds in my office. I enjoy this extraordinary moment of now. shadows on GW blinds

With the changing of the season, I revel in the colors and textures – reds, oranges, golds – blended with the green leftovers of summer. The crunch of tiny acorns under my walking shoes, a pubescent pine cone that fell too early. Orange pumpkins reign near my almost-gone summer annuals.

These are the sights and sounds of autumn, often referred to as the harvest season.

In the Reverend G books, our brave little minister wonders how to deal with her own shadows of Alzheimer’s – the seasons that come and go, leaving her a bit more confused, a bit closer mentally to her younger self even as her physical body ages. She yearns to share her faith with the residents at Cove Creek yet she can’t quite remember how to speak the Gospel.

In one of my favorite scenes in the third book, Reverend G tries to preach a sermon and jumbles the story in an endearing yet tragic attempt to speak about her faith. What a character she is and how bravely she tries to deal with this disease that has stolen even the memory of ministry from her!

In this season of change, I wonder about my mother, too. How does she deal with the shadows on her plastic blinds in assisted living? Does she remember the changing colors of the trees on the farm? Does she still long for those autumnal moments or have they completely retreated in the Alzheimer-forming plaque that captures her brain?

I so want her to remember this season of autumn for its beauty, the crisp air and the promise of harvest. I long for my mother to recall with joy the way we celebrated with church folks, joined in a giant pot luck and sang, “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.”

I hope Mom still rejoices within that sacred holy of holies inside her soul, that she somehow catches a tune from the past, the aroma of pumpkin pies cooling on the cabinet and the presence of her beloved Hank next to her.

And just in case my genes fail me and throw me also into Alzheimer’s shadows, I will rejoice in the now and enjoy today. I will continue to walk in the crisp air, crunch tiny acorns under my feet and praise God for the colors and textures of autumn.

For how else can we deal with shadows but to look for the remaining light. And how else can we face something as horrific as Alzheimer’s unless we look beyond it to the harvest of heaven.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” –

0 thoughts on “Shadows of Alzheimer’s”

  1. This entry touched my heart on different levels. This is the line that touched me the most, that caught my throat: “For how else can we deal with shadows but to look for the remaining light…” Not only did that inspire me with my vision, but it encouraged me with my family situation. My mother’s mind is sharp and clear but her body is failing her, which creates a dichotomy of frustration inside her. My eyes are not sharp, and when I try to do the things she can’t do for herself, my attempts fall short of her expectations. Probably similar to what caregivers may experience as they cope with loved ones in the Alzheimer’s situation. My brother in the hospital has a skewered perspective toward his medication, his diabetes and others always making the decisions that affect his life, therefore, most days go badly for him. He longs for “freedom,” something I can’t provide. I am caught up in ministering to my family as best I can and falling so short, so your line about dealing with the shadows and looking to the remaining light speaks to my heart on that level, too. It nudges my heart to seek out joy and beauty in the hurts of my family. It reminds me that God will meet my needs in the midst of our everyday struggles. I’m not unique. I have to look for the remaining light amid the shadows that cling to my family–which also reminds me, JOY = Jesus, Others, You. My needs will be as I strive to minister to them.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful comments, Amy. You also touch my heart as you minister to so many people on so many levels. You are yourself a light in the shadowed lives around you. May you find encouragement in our sweet Savior today.

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