I know I used this photo already this week, but the story behind it is one that is still tender to my heart.
I have a lot of decorations around our house that were crafted by children we love.
Painted paper pumpkins and thumbprints dipped in fall colors and dotting a bare tree…a coffee can painted black with a pumpkin and a green stem…all make me smile because I think of the sweet little hands of children and grandchildren.
But this slightly garish decoration tugs at a place in my heart where deep grooves were worn by the ravages of Alzheimers on my dad and the scars left on us as we walked a journey many people know all too well.
I am no hero in this story.
I did what I could and let nurses and aids deal with the worst of it on a daily basis as we continued to get kids to ball games and school and through college and weddings and life.
I wrote this several years ago and have shared before but I share again today because on October 5th many local families will walk in honor of or in memory of loved ones.
My father lived another three months after I wrote this one tired night when everything in me was raw.
It really is the end.
A wheelchair replaces the bow-legged walk down the hall. Sweat pants and sweat shirt replace the soiled pants and button down shirt with the inevitable pocket to keep his notebook and pens in.
He isn’t angry, but he isn’t really happy either. Just in a fog.
I think he knows me, but hard to tell.
Trying to make conversation, his words are nonsense. He is embarrassed because he couldn’t swallow his medicine and now it is a wet spot on his shirt.
He looks at me, but doesn’t see.
It isn’t like I wish he was the way he was before. That wasn’t any better. Just a different kind of awful.
I don’t feel sorry for me. It hurts more than anyone can know, but I don’t feel sorry for me.
I don’t feel sorry for him either. It’s just another part of life for both of us.Another part that is hard and seems cruel, but it’s just another part.
In it are sweet moments.
Things like a fall pumpkin he made in crafts. It’s obvious he had a lot of help, but still he thinks he made it. When I tell him it is beautiful, and I really mean it because it is, he thanks me in his own way. Though the words make no sense, I can tell by the way he moves his head what he is saying.
When I think of how my mom was spared the pain of this, I can’t stop thanking God.
I can’t think of anything but how thankful I am to Him that she never had to see this. I am thankful it is not my sister. I am thankful it is me.
When I told him I love him, he said “me too”. I asked him if he meant he loves me or he loves himself. He laughed.
I am going to believe he got the joke and it made him laugh.
The laugh and the pumpkin are enough for today.
God’s grace poured out for one more visit, tangible in a fall decoration on the seat next to me.
Tomorrow will bring another dose of grace for that day.
Tonight the tears flow from my tiredness.
Tomorrow will bring new mercies.
For those of you who are in this season still, may God hold your hearts together when you feel you can’t face another trip into that room.
For those of you remembering your own season, may He give you comfort and peace that you loved as well as you could each time.
God holds all the pieces when everything is falling apart.
Rest in Him.
Be thankful for His grace and mercies over you and in you. Over your loved ones or the memories of them that you carry <3