Today God is teaching me about honoring heroes. But it started with Mom yelling at me while I was helping her with her bath and getting her dressed. She was angry and shouting, “Don’t do that!”
When I’d ask her calmly to do something she’d yell, “I don’t want to!” She also loudly declared, with much passion, “This is stupid! I hurt! I want to go home! I want my mama!”
She calmed down once she was dressed. We ate lunch together, and I did little chores and cleaned the house there for a couple hours. I thought I was okay.
And then I got home, and I ached all over, and I started to cry and couldn’t stop for more than an hour. I thought about the hard part of my day with Mom and I wanted to repeat all the words she had. I wanted to tell Mom, “Don’t do that!” when she got mad at me. And when I think about going through the whole bath ordeal again, a part of me wants to yell: “I don’t want to!” as strongly as she did.
And truly I want my mama. I want my real mama. I want her wisdom and her comfort. I want her concern and her love. I want her to know me, and to hug me close, and to tell me that everything will be okay.
And so I pray. I ask God, “What am I supposed to learn from all this? It’s just painful. Why are so many people suffering this way?” I think about my dad, with his bad back, almost total blindness and diabetes, and how he is caring for Mom pretty much 24/7. And he is almost always patient and cheerful. And I marvel at that. And I feel so weak to be stressed over the little I do, compared to what Dad does.
I think about how he followed me to the door today, when I was leaving. And he said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are so precious.” And it reminds me of the times I just drop by to visit, and how even then he thanks me and says, “It’s so nice to talk to someone….”
And I realize that’s the lesson I’m learning. I don’t know why Alzheimer’s and other illnesses and painful things happen. But I know God has called His children to help each other out, to love each other, and to care. I know what we do (or fail to do) for others we are doing (or failing to do) for Jesus.
I just read this morning in John 15: 12-13, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJV)
Not many of us will be called to die for our loved ones. But those who care full-time for someone with AD, like Dad does, are in a very real way laying down their lives. And they need our help and support and prayers.
They need hugs and visits. They need an hour to go outside by themselves, or maybe a day to get away. They need grandchildren and relatives and friends who ask, “How can I help?” And then follow through. They need to be honored as the battle-scarred heroes that they are.
And they need to know that, whether they are getting that support or not, our Heavenly Father sees all their sacrificial acts of love. And I can imagine Him smiling and saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are so precious.”