Hope Detours

detour aheadWhile my son was in surgery, I planned to write several blog posts, work on a newspaper column, maybe read a bit. My bag was filled with pens, paper, books.

Any activity to forget my precious son was lying on a sterile table in a brightly-lit operating room.

But the waiting room was so loud my introvert wrath fueled its frustration. Other occupants in this Family Waiting Area played with their children, worked on crochet projects, laughed and snacked on Starbucks pastries.

Didn’t these people understand I was trying to concentrate on my work? Didn’t they know I was trying to avoid thinking about my son’s body being sliced with a scalpel?

Of course not, I reminded myself. They, too, were trying to forget their loved ones lying on sterile tables behind steel doors.

I gave up on writing projects, certain my creativity left the moment I entered the hospital. Pulled out a book to read.

Read the first page twenty times. Gave up on reading. Watched the clock on the wall. One hour gone. He was supposed to be out of surgery already. Another half hour.

Why wasn’t he out of surgery? Wasn’t this the point when the doctor was supposed to come in and tell me everything would be okay?

The volunteer at the front desk came over and sat beside me. “You look worried.”

“It’s taking much longer than they said.”

She explained how they sometimes started later than anticipated. If something was amiss, they would call her desk and she would let me talk to them.

Then she changed the subject, described how far she drives every day to volunteer, how she loves helping people.

We watched “Fixer Upper” reruns on the waiting room TV. “I don’t like that style, do you?”

“Nah. Too contemporary for my taste.”

The importance of conversation. The comfort given in simple statements. The warmth of another human being. A stranger who becomes an instant friend.

Hope arrived and provided a detour from the present crisis.

Then the phone call. “He’s okay,” she said. “The doctor will be here soon.”

I don’t even know her name, but God does. Maybe he’ll give her an extra star in her crown.

©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

When you’re facing a crisis, hope may hand you a detour. Check out Hope Shines for daily encouragement.

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Hope Recovers from Fear

My son is sick, and I am afraid.Caleb and Mom at Rachel's wedding

Because he is a cancer survivor (eight years, bless God!), when something happens that interrupts that heart relief of his healing – my soul fears.

Last week, he was disoriented. He couldn’t drive, couldn’t write his name, had trouble putting words together to make a sentence.

The honest prayer of Reverend G poured from me, “Oh God oh God oh God. I can’t stand it.”

We scheduled an appointment with the neurologist who ordered the usual lab work and then an MRI.

The night before the imaging test, I woke up every two and a half hours to check on Caleb – to tiptoe into his bedroom, touch his forehead, check his breathing.


Every two and a half hours – the same amount of time that he woke me up for feedings when he was a baby. Now, 29 years later, my mommy heart somehow answered an internal alarm to check on my grown child.


Every time I returned to bed, I fell to my knees to beg God, “Please! Will you take my last living child? You already have my first two babies. Please, please, save my son!”

My prayers became whimpers of pleading along with the recitations of verses to remind God of his promises:

“No weapon used against us will prosper. No weapon, God. Please.”

“God delivers us from all our fears. Deliver us, oh God.”

“Peace I leave with you. Peace I give unto you. Your beloved peace, I beg of you.”

Then the morning sky, the day of the MRI, that metal machine surrounding my son’s body, imprinting its pictures on the radiologic screen – answers that will bring relief or sorrow.

Oh God oh God oh God. I can’t stand it.

Then the waiting. They read the results. Fax them to the doctor. Contact my son. He texts me.

No tumor. No reoccurrence.

Oh God oh God oh God. I thank you.

But then a reminder of other mothers who will receive bad news this day. Some will not thank God but fall to their knees in grief, stand before a coffin and place flowers on a grave.

Oh God – deliver us from the ravages of death. Come, Lord Jesus.

We still have no answers for this attack on Caleb’s body. More doctors. More tests.

But in the process, hope revives. We will deal with whatever it is and thrust our fear-filled hearts toward the only One who knows the answers.

Hope still survives.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Stage 5 of Alzheimer’s – Early Dementia

As told by Reverend G …

As I practice my A B Cs, I think of my little boy, Jacob. He is … I don’t know … about eight or ten now.

No, I saw him just this morning, and he is grown with a wife. What is her name?

Hebrews 13-5bI cannot find my shoes, even though I took them off just a few minutes ago. This morning, someone had to help me tie them. I forgot how to make the bunny ears go inside each other. Such a strange forgetting.

At least I have not forgotten God. I know he is with me each day and throughout every moment of my waking and sleeping hours. I know this because he promised this and he always keeps his promises.

I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).

Perhaps I have failed him in the past. I don’t remember. But that doesn’t matter. He loves me even in my forgetfulness, even in this dreaded journey through dementia and Alzheimer’s.


And no matter how much worse it gets, he will never fail to stay beside me.


I wish I could remember what I had for lunch. It bothers me, because I’m not sure I even ate lunch.

Doc Sanders or some medical person wants me to eat more, because he says I’m too thin. But how can I eat if I can’t remember what to do with food?

This is a quandary. I never expected to have this problem in my life. I wonder if I will feel better about it tomorrow.

I wonder what day it is tomorrow. Somewhere I have a calendar with little squares marked off for each day and a pretty picture at the top. Maybe I will look for that after supper.

Thank you, God, for being with me – even now – as I try to remember my lunch and search for my calendar. Thank you for being timeless.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books – http://bit.ly/1RH27AT

An Ethical Alzheimer’s Question

The question came up again last week when a caregiver faced the ultimate decision. “Should we put our mother through a surgery, knowing that it may save her life, but at the age of 88, it will only prolong her journey into Alzheimer’s. What should we do?”

The decision, of course, will ultimately rest with that family and the medical professionals, but it is a quandary that many of us face as our parents age without the ability to express what they want for their own bodies.

Doctors are trained to preserve life, to “do no harm.” And they are skilled in the various ways to test for disease, treat the symptoms and perform surgeries that prolong life.

But at some point, don’t we have to ask the hard questions? Is Alzheimer’s any type of quality life? Would our loved ones want to go through the pain of surgery, the rehab after surgery and still face an even longer period of time living within the shadows of Alzheimer’s?

My family faced this decision a year ago with Mom’s pacemaker surgery. Yes, her heart needed stimulation because she was passing out, bumping her head and experiencingAlz awareness all sorts of physical problems. Doctors determined she needed a pacemaker, and the decision was made quickly by those who care daily for Mom.

It was supposed to be an easy surgery, in and out in a couple of days. But complications set in, Mom’s mental status quickly deteriorated from confusion to dementia, and the end result was four days in the hospital with a transfer to nursing home care.

Would it not have caused less harm to let Mom’s brave heart just wear itself out and wing her to eternity where there is no pain, no surgeries and no Alzheimer’s?

As I stayed night with Mom in the hospital, she experienced a rare moment of lucid thought and communication. She asked, “What did they do to me?”

I explained about the pacemaker and the complications of a collapsed lung, the possibility of pneumonia. “Your heart needed to be fixed, Mom,” I said, glad for this moment between us but wishing we could be talking about something besides her difficult prognosis.

She raised up in bed, setting off monitors that blinked and brought nurses running. “If they would have asked me,” Mom declared, “I would have said ‘No.’”

When I arrived back in Kansas, the first thing I did was to instruct my son that absolutely no life-saving measures should be performed on me. “If I get Alzheimer’s like Grandma, and if I’m not able to take care of myself, the best way you can love me is to let me go.”

Then I wrote it down in my last wishes’ papers and finalized everything. Do no harm. Let me go.

In the third book of the Life at Cove Creek Series, Reverend G, Jacob and Chris will also face this decision. Writing about this serious topic in a fictional story was easy because I had lived through it with my mom. I knew what Reverend G would choose because I knew my own choice and what I felt was the sanest and kindest way to go.

When it comes to that decision, a life of further Alzheimer’s versus stepping into eternity – for me there is no debate. But each family has to make that choice.

What do you think? I’d be interested to know where you stand on this subject.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo                                                            Finding Hope When Life Unravels

Excerpt from “Intermission for Reverend G”

Intermission Rev G Cover“I’d like to see your mother gain a little weight. She’s a bit below the charts.” Jacob sat beside me in one of the chairs in Doc’s old office while the new doctor in town flipped through my chart and made a notation.

I watched him scribble whatever orders or medicines he thought might improve my health. His gorgeous dark skin contrasted totally with his white lab coat. Perfect spoken English, obviously from India.

I glanced at his certificate on the wall, framed in dark mahogany; “On the recommendation of the faculty of the Harvard School of Medicine, the trustees have conferred on Kumar Anjee the degree of Doctor of Medicine.”

Jacob crossed his legs and reached for my hand. “Doctor Anjee, my mother eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly. She walks every day. We were wondering if perhaps any new drugs or supplements might help with the memory loss.”

Doctor Anjee closed my chart and leaned forward to address Jacob. “That is good. Walking is the best possible exercise, but of course you know – all indications are that the brain continues to wither, especially the temporal lobes.”

Wither. What a disgusting word! Old withering Reverend G. Withering like a rotten tomato on the vine, left too long in the Kansas sun. Withering brain cells drying up and disappearing into the sunset of life. Withering old lady with dried up temporal lobes.

I can’t stand it, God. I’m withering like a plum that morphs into a prune. Is there a Bible verse that talks about withering? How am I supposed to deal with this? How am I supposed to age gracefully if I’m withering? And why won’t this doctor look at me? Doc Sanders never treated me like this.

The doctor continued, “You also might begin to notice another type of regression, almost a personality shift. Your mother may exhibit more of the behavioral characteristics of an adolescent; such as arguing, becoming more interested in childish things, maybe even a desire for toys.”

Great! Not only was my brain withering but I also lived in a time warp. What happens next? Zits?

My stomach growled, and Doctor Anjee glanced at me. Must have heard the rumbling. He made another notation in my chart. Probably something like “Withering old lady has a loud stomach especially when sitting in office chair.”

“Can you tell me your name and your birth date?” he asked without looking up.

“Yes.” Idiot man. Of course I could tell him my name and my birth date. I just chose not to.

Jacob laughed. “Well, sir, she did answer your question.”

Not even a snicker from the doctor. He made a checkmark on my chart then asked, “What day is this?”

I was ready for this one. I practiced it all morning, because I knew the doctor always asked that question. “It’s the day after yesterday and the day before tomorrow.” So there, big shot doctor who never looks at his withering patients.

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