Alzheimer’s cannot destroy our family ties.
Dad was an introvert while Mom was the talker. They made a great team and even though Mom’s personality stays intact, she seems a bit more closed off since her beloved Hank graduated to heaven.
Yet … our family remains strong and devoted to one another. Mom is still and always will be the matriarch.
She comes from a long line of matriarchal women who raised their children with leather belts and switches from the trees. Women who knew how to kill a chicken, then strip its feathers and fry it to a golden brown.
Women who worked a job outside of home, shopped for the harvest crew and put a huge meal on the table so that hungry men found sustenance. Then woke early the next morning and did it all over again.
Women who fiercely protected their children, used every resource available and saved enough money so their kids could attend college without going into debt.
During this holiday season, we will drive Mom to the same farm where she raised us. I will buy a pecan pie and Cool Whip so she can have her favorite Thanksgiving treat.
She will sit at the table and occasionally speak. When she does, we will listen – even if it doesn’t quite make sense. Because she is the Mom, the grandmother and now – the great-grandmother.
And sometimes, as she sits in the recliner beside the fire, I will catch her with a look on her face and wonder, What is she thinking?
Is she homesick for heaven? Probably. Is she missing her husband, her mother, her grandmothers who taught her so much? Certainly.
Is she remembering those days when she fixed the entire Thanksgiving meal, then organized the clean-up crew, saved all the leftovers and planned how she would make the budget stretch so that every child had a special gift on Christmas? I would bet so.
And sometimes – in the glow from the fire – I see in her the features of all the matriarchs before her and I know Alzheimer’s can never destroy those family ties.
That same strength has been shared with my siblings and I. We have attempted to pass it on to our children so that faith, determination and perseverance never diminishes throughout our generations.
In the Mennonite church, we used to sing, “Blessed be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love.” As I observe my mother throughout these waning years of her life, those family ties keep us bound together.
This brutal disease of Alzheimer’s can never destroy those ties.
©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh
Your story reminded me of how we treated my mom whose dementia never got a chance to become really severe before she passed at 89. When we grown kids visited my parents for a family meal, my dad would frequently regale us with a memory from their past. His story often prompted Mom to remember a story of her own. Then she repeated the exact same story he had just told. We took our cue on how to respond from our dad. He sat there enraptured. She was still our mom, deserving of respect and honor.
What a beautiful memory for you, Jan! I’m so glad you have that visual of your dad enraptured with love for his bride. How sweet!
Thank you for the reminder of the hymn. There indeed is a tie that binds.
I love that hymn and miss that we don’t sing it anymore. A treasure from the past.
A beautiful heritage rooted in truth. ‘Nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ What a great post.
Thanks, Jerry. I love that verse, too.
R.J. I have come to expect encouragement from your posts. With so much difficulty that I am facing in my own body and with the troubles that are happening in the lives of my children (which makes them stronger) and so much more, these posts help to to run to Jesus. Psalm 61:2 says, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” My prayers are constantly with you and your family.
I’m so glad you’re finding encouragement from my words. That is my goal. So glad that as sisters in Christ – we are both leaning on the Rock.