Yesterday was my mother’s 89th birthday. She has been a resident in a memory care unit at the Woodbury Health Care Center for the past three years. We celebrated with cake, flowers and great-grandchildren.
Like many adult children with aging parents, I struggle how to best honor and love my mother at this stage of her life. Due to her many falls and dementia, my wife and I cannot take care of her at home. Earlier in her life, when her dementia was just beginning, my siblings and I tried to talk with her about what living arrangements she would want as the disease progressed. Like many in her generation, she did not want to discuss those issues, so my siblings and I did our best to find places that could care for her in a loving, humane way.
Now the dementia has progressed to the point where she no longer knows my name or relationship to her. She cannot hold a conversation. But she still smiles when I approach her and call her name. She likes to have her hands rubbed and her arm stroked. She will occasionally look at pictures of her family. We can sing Happy Birthday together. She enjoys cake and ice cream.
Perhaps the greatest joy for her yesterday was holding her newest great-grandchild, Grace. Mom did not fully comprehend who Grace was. She could not say her name. Yet I felt God’s grace surrounding her and us as she held her great-granddaughter. Love flowed from each.
As I reflect on the moment, I take great hope in the knowledge that God is holding my mom in his lap. And God is holding me and you as well. We may not fully realize who we are as children of God, but God fully knows and cares. God loves holds us even when we forget God’s name. Someday God will call my mom (and me and you) home and only then will we fully know whose we are.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:12-13
Lord Jesus, hold me as your own.