Dear Russell and Friends,
One of my strongest reasons for belief is the approach that following Christ has given me concerning one of our universal human experiences – – death and loss. Below is a lightly edited excerpt from my paper journal. On Wednesday night, my mother went home ten minutes after I kissed her forehead for the last time. After almost 17 months, the prayer was answered well.
8/31/13 – – Saturday, 0430 – –
“September tomorrow? Yes indeed. What happened this week? Much. On Thursday evening Mom fell in her bathroom. I was on the conference call. I finished it then headed to the emergency room. Mom had been x-rayed – – no break — and was given 1/2 of a tablet of mild narcotic. The nurses changed her and helped us transfer to a wheelchair. Mom quivered in pain and I tried to occupy her mind with scripture recitation. We pulled in at 9 pm. By 9 am yesterday morning Dan was there with Debra. We had already agreed to increase homecare services to Monday-Saturday 0900-noon. We talked and I briefed him on her situation. Previously I had asked him just what they could do for a non-ambulatory person and he described a split shift 0900-noon and 1500-1800. We both thought she might need that for a while and he called to confirm when he had seen her.
So Lisa mobilized Rachel, who had helped Mom before. I asked for help on Sundays too – – at least for now. We went from 10 hrs a week to 42. What have I been feeling this week? A very real sense of Mom’s rapid decline and a growing desire that I hesitate to even think. Father — please take Mom home. We talked on Sunday after the very difficult church service (it took twenty minutes for my bride to help her to Sunday school after big church). She was not sure of her salvation. I sang Blessed Assurance to her. I taught back scripture to her. Grace is how we are saved. It is all from you. She is terrified. Oh, to realize the human frailty of your parents. Oh, to confront your own frailty. And to fully recognize how weak we really are. You are humbling me so that Christ may increase in my life. The part of me that despises weakness does not honor you. Forgive me please.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
Jason and I discussed this by phone yesterday. We’ll have a chance to fellowship in person today. We thought that this book addressed children as children when we were growing up – – more like – – children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Now we realize it is to us in middle age as we have the privilege of this responsibility. Is it a burden? Honestly? Yes. But you said – – come to me with your burdens – – I’ll relieve you. I need that rest.
It is more than a burden. It is a holy obligation. Why do I pray that you would take her home? I prayed it with Dad when his mind failed and his body started to waste. That decline was occurring 5 years ago. He died in March 2009. So — September 2008 – – was it beginning? I believe so. We moved him to the nursing home in October or November.
Father, I understand (I’m still learning) that life is a precious gift. You gave it and only you can take it away. I struggle with the tension that is future minded – – the focus on an eternity with you – – versus present aware – – our creation on this earth is a glorious gift. Mom is in pain and is not at peace. She is chair bound and won’t read or even listen to the radio. Please take her home and show her that your grace has always covered her.
Then I would lay her to rest next to Dad. I will likely have her remains cremated. I think that’s what I want for me. From dust I came to dust I will return. Cremation, then a headstone next to Dad. I would ask Pastor to give a funeral message for our family and the ladies in her Sunday school class. Please bring me closer to you through this. Let me realize that my body and mind may fail. Let me recognize that my strength is declining even as my sons’ strength rises.
Help me to be a wise steward of every resource that is yours – – strength, wisdom, favor, time, talent, treasure – – all yours. Audit my heart and straighten my path. Revise my desires to please you. Given me the right desires. Author them. Make me a man that loves you and others.”