Hope Inspires When Art Becomes Life

Oscar Wilde opined that life often imitates art, but once in a while, the philosophy reverses and art becomes life. I’ve seen it happen with my Reverend G series and recently, it happened again.Art-Becomes-Life

In the third Reverend G book – to be released late spring, 2015 – Reverend G purchases birthday cards for her son, Jacob, long before she begins to recede into the shadows of Alzheimer’s. She wants to celebrate with him even when she no longer remembers his birth date.

My son recently celebrated his 29th birthday and he received an interesting card from his grandmother. Although Mom hasn’t read any of the Reverend G books nor have I told her anything about Book # 3, art became life.

My sister found a birthday card for Caleb that Mom purchased several years ago, signed and wrote Caleb’s name on the envelope. In her tiny scrawl were the same words she once used for all his birthday cards, “Love you bunches – Grandma Arlene.”

Did she have some sort of premonition that this one card would be sent when she no longer remembered dates, when time itself became an extinct commodity in her mind?

Did she hope that her first grandchild would still cherish the grandmother who sits in assisted living and makes up stories that she believes are true? Did she want him to know that although she cannot remember his age or his career, she cares enough to ask the same questions over and over, “How’s Caleb? Is he doing okay? Tell him I think about him all the time.”

Did she wonder if she would still be living when that card was delivered? Or would it be the last greeting she would send to this boy she has loved?

When art becomes life, it gives me pause as a writer. Because I dedicate my words to the One who is the Word, I wonder how much of what pours out of me will manifest in the future.

Writers often use words for therapy as many of our past experiences show up in our books and characters. But we also face the responsibility of knowing that the words we use today might actually become reality tomorrow.

In that case, it behooves Christian writers to be even more cautious and ever alert for the voice of the Word within.

May the words of my mouth and those of my pen be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Savior and my God.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Finding Hope within Alzheimer’s

Inside the birthday card from my mom was a check for twenty dollars. But as I read the card and looked at the check, I noticed something surprising and terrible. Almost immediately, I beat my fists on the kitchen counter and began to sob.

Mom had tried to sign her name on the check, but obviously crossed out her name and rewrote it, then printed her initials to indicate the change. I knew this was no mistake, no slipping of the fingers or pen. It was another sign of regression – another step down into the pit of Alzheimer’s.

alphabetI remembered how my dad, slipping into dementia, sat at the table and practiced the alphabet. Already forgetting how to sign his name, he started at the beginning – relearning how to write his a b c’s. It was heart-breaking to watch this grown man try to concentrate and make simple letters.

Now we faced the same situation. Mom struggled to write her name, scratched it out and tried again to create the signature she had carried for a lifetime.

It was a reminder that the time bomb of Alzheimer’s ticks away and each change signifies another stage of this dreaded disease.

So how can I find hope, knowing the downward spiral we are traveling?

I find hope in the one place where it is constantly nurtured and harvested – the book of Psalms. “When I am old and gray, O God, you will not forsake me, until I have shown your strength to this generation and your power to everyone that is to come” (Psalm 71:18).

Even though Mom’s brain betrays her and her fingers with their memorized motions forsake her – God is still evident in her life. He’s in her smile when she sees me come through the door. He’s the Comforter when she forgets someone’s name and solves the problem by saying, “Hi there, Kid.” He’s present when she stares into space and repeats the same questions over and over. He’s omniscient, knowing the timeline of her life and how many days are left.

God still shows his strength through my mom because when I see the regression, I am forced to acknowledge his powerful presence. Somehow the God who owns our hearts will see us through this horrific disease. Somehow he will create a way for us to cope and help us exhibit a strong yet tender grace throughout the next stages of the disease.

I am sad yes, but even within the sorrow – I find hope because I know God will not forsake us. He will be with us throughout this journey and beyond. Mom may not be able to sign her full name, but Someone – who has recorded every hair on her head – will never forget her name. And he will hold all of us in the palm of his mighty hand as we continue to find our hope in him.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo