January is a month of looking ahead and planning for the year. We make work goals and vacation plans. I dream about where I’ll take my solo journey, my pilgrimage. This year, I have the excitement of anticipating the birth of my first grandchild, a baby boy – a new chapter of life about to unfold. I pray for this baby that’s being knitted together in his mother’s womb. I wonder, will he be like his father, my older son, Brooks? I think about how looking at a newborn we see all of life ahead, hope swaddled in that baby bundle. But it’s hard to see future with a person at the other end of the life cycle. It reminds me of how I felt that day when we had to place Mama at Parkview.
Like I described in my post, “Carry a Song” (Dec. 20), our hearts were broken when we three sisters had to move Mama to Parkview. Once her dementia progressed and she started falling, we couldn’t provide what she needed at home. I remember a woman’s comment after I told her about our situation. She responded, “Well, we were lucky that we didn’t have to put our parents in ‘one of those places.’”
How that added to what already felt like a defeat. The day we took Mama to Parkview, my sisters settled her into the room while I completed the medical information. When I reached the final section, I wasn’t sure I could go on; What is your funeral home preference? Mama was eighty-nine-years-old and of course, you think of the end of life. But what it reminded me of was the woman’s comment. Were we guilty of placing Mama in a dumping ground? My heart broke.
Next to where I stood there was a bulletin board. Thumbtacked to the bottom right corner there was an index card with a Bible verse written in ink; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).
I remembered when I’d first read that verse many years before. It was on one of Brooks’s high school graduation cards and was perfect for launching an eighteen-year-old. But to be posted in a nursing home, how did it fit for their residents who were very advanced in years?
Then it was as if the still small voice of God said, “Your Mama has a future, too.”
That truth applies to everyone; No Age Limits.
I thought about how Mama had always been a woman of faith and had never voiced any fear of growing old. When I’d ask her what age she’d enjoyed the most, she’d always respond, “Every age has good things.”
Now, Mama has been a resident at Parkview for over five years. She is loved by the staff and fellow residents will comment, “She always has such a sweet smile.” One of the nursing assistants discovered that Mama was the “Mrs. Rosser” that was kind to her when she was a child. She had a wistful expression as she recalled how Mrs. Rosser had welcomed her and the other day camp kids to her farm and provided great food and a wonderful place to play.
One day I came in and found a woman custodian singing to Mama. When I commented how nice that was, the woman responded, “I always come in and sing to her. Mrs. Rosser likes me.”
It’s been sad to see the decline in Mama from dementia. But, I have witnessed how God has worked. Her future has continued her rich legacy of a life well-lived, without fear, where every age has good things.
How about you?
How have you experienced times when you couldn’t see hope and a future for yourself or someone else?
What has helped to move beyond that?