I worry for my loving mother,
the dimming years,
the trials she has known.
One of the heart wrenching decisions I had to make upon moving to Pennsylvania two years ago regarded my mother. As I have shared before, she was living in a dementia ward near my home where I could visit her easily. Because she had nearly died the year prior to my move and was now stable and happy in "her home," moving her was deemed by all those we consulted not in her best interest. The day I walked out from seeing her to head east was excruciating.
Yet God has been so faithful. Her care was excellent at the nursing home, and the staff loved her like their own mother. Our church friends visited her to remind her of God's presence and love. Her faculties were diminished to the point she could not process I had moved, so she was never upset when I visited. I scheduled regular visits out to see her (and my nearby college daughter who also was attentive to her), and Mom's faith and joy were always on display. Incredibly, after a number of years of calling me Jack for no reason we can determine, this past year she started calling me by name again each time I saw her. She would hold my hand, tell everyone who passed by I was her son, and every few minutes or so intently look me in the eye and tell me she loved me so much. Whenever I asked why she was so happy, she would give one of three answers. God, Jesus, or the Lord made her happy.
Her heart so kind and so weary
Keep her safe one more night
'til I get home
Last weekend Mom fell and broke her hip. I went out to be with her as she went through the surgery. As I worried about how she would cope with this setback, I was amazed again at the Lord's presence and love for my mom and my family. The surgeon whom I had not known prior to this time was a Christian and gave us comforting counsel. A young man from the lab drawing my mom's blood turned out to be a former student of mine when I taught math at the local university. He shared how he had become a believer, his family of four is now walking with the Lord, and he is an elder in a local evangelical church. The head nurse at Mom's home assured me of their commitment to work with Mom, giving me a comforting hug as she did.
Yet it was Mom herself who reassured me the most. Through she was sleeping a great deal following surgery, our interactions had some bright spots. When I asked her at one point if she was afraid, she replied, "No, because God is with me." Another time her smile returned for a few moments as she told me she loved me, then winked at me as she often liked to do. Leaving her was again difficult, but seeing these things and knowing my brother was coming to be with her made it less so.
How I long to be right there beside her
And bring everything back to before
We'll arrive with the first light of morning
Keep her safe, let me hold her once more.
However, on my way home from church this Lord's Day, my brother called. Mom had suddenly passed away. Complications from her surgery appear to be the cause. I'm thankful he was there with her. The previous day, Mom told him something I had never heard her say before. She said she wanted to go home. When he asked where that was, she said she wanted to be with God.
The Lord granted her request sooner than we thought. Though I will not be able to hold her once more, the Lord is even now. "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:1-3).
The sage and Joshua tree remind me
Of the miles to go,
The journey that we're on
In the still, sweet air of the desert
We will ride
Through the breaking of the dawn.
Note: Lyrics are from Fernando Ortega's song "The Breaking of the Dawn"