The following blog post was written by my wife Kathy. I thought about putting it under the category: Things You Should Know About The Author Of This Blog, with the subtitle: My Wife Is A Better Person Than I Am. Because she really is. Kathy is truly amazing. Most recently I’m reminded of this fact as I watch the way she takes care of her mother. That’s what this blog post is about.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
According to the doctor yesterday mom is in the final stage of a horrific disease, Lewy Body Dementia. Robin Williams’s death brought this little known form of dementia into the limelight. Mom’s been on a roller coaster ride since 2013 but she’s been in a steep downward spiral recently, leaving her manic during parts of the afternoon and evening, pacing with anxiety that drives her to frantically rub her head. Her hallucinations and delusions are every day now. Most are benign, but some can cause a look of fear or terror on her face. When that happens one can’t help but to gather her in your arms and tell her “It’s okay, they’re not real”. Babies to be fed, bunnies to be gathered, bugs to be trapped, and the people she sees. Men, women, children, babies. The babies are countless now. Crying, hungry babies. Foolishly I found myself asking her, after the first couple of times she hallucinated, if she thought they could be angels or memories of loved ones. She whispered with a look of astonished horror, “No, angels would never dress in dirty pants and be whispering and pointing at me.”
Now mom, the real mom, makes her appearance less and less throughout the day, but when she does appear her words are powerful and cut my heart so deeply. “Hello Kathy Ann” takes my breath away. I sit and hold her hand as we look and smile at each other and may exchange anything from a few sentences of nothing to a paragraph of profound wishes.
I have been praying a lot about my mom’s race. How she’s doing. Honestly, it’s been tough. I struggle with the whys, or how comes, or not fair thoughts. I find this “race” so different from the last week of my father’s life (he died at 59 from bone cancer) where my grief was so overwhelming, a sharp constant crushing pain of grief that never let up. It was suffocating for that week and it brought me to my knees with sadness. I held his hand and hung on every word of final goodbyes as he finished his race set before him, and entered into heaven. His race was intense, painful, explosive, full out running with nothing left, all spent. And I found myself feeling the same way, all spent, as I was swept up in the emotion of it all, like a spectator of the Olympics 400 meters. It was different from my mom’s. Mom’s is like an ocean, waves of grief, then calm, then a wave crashes in again. But always slowly eroding my footing. I find myself once again on my knees but for a different purpose. This time for Jesus to come quickly, call the race, this marathon event. Let this end early and bring her home.
As I pray for mom today, I recognize the wisdom in my pastor’s words. A few years ago I asked him what the best thing was that I could do for mom. You see, I had promised dad I would make sure she was okay all those years ago, and I had in my mind what that should look like. However, Pastor Jon’s advice was for us to focus on heaven, to make sure mom made it to heaven, to focus on her salvation. I needed to do whatever the Lord directed me to do to achieve that.
“But what about her money?”
“But what about him not helping?”
It was always brought back to heaven. Of course taking care of mom is a good thing, but I was stunned by his main focus when I had such other pressing important issues–like family dynamics! How foolish I now feel as God reminded me not long ago that yes, dad had said he wanted to be sure mom would be okay, but I didn’t really focus on the rest of that conversation hours before he died.
“I want to be sure your mom is okay.”
“Don’t worry dad, she will be.”
“Kathy, I’m not afraid of dying…but I want my family to be there”.
THAT was what my dad wanted from me. THAT was what he asked me to do. He was saying the same thing as my pastor. He wanted to be sure, in his absence, that his wife and children would finish well and join him in heaven. God forgive me. It is all about Heaven. Not my sacrifice now for mom’s comfort, though that is good and of value. But more importantly to be sure I help mom finish her race into heaven, and even more important, my own race, … let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Whatever type of race God deems, I need to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.
We all are running a race. From time to time we are even running alongside one another to encourage, help, and cheer each other on to victory.
My prayer is for you to run your race well. That you and I always look forward unto Jesus. That we all enter into heaven with victory, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
[The image of Kathy’s mother Patricia holding her Bible was taken by Kathy Bennett]