Holy Ground in the Lunchroom

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Wednesday is my day to take my Mom out to lunch.
She lives in a dementia unit nearby, a lovely place.
She loves her room, she thinks the food is great,
and she talks about moving almost every time we are together.

I get that, I do.
All my life, my mom has been a restless soul.
She loved to move the furniture around,
to create beautiful tableaus on tabletops,
counters, corners.
She dreamed of traveling,
and she did a fair amount of it, too,
and she often wondered if there was 
more she could be doing with her life.

There are days when my mother forgets she is old.
Why not? She forgets lots of other things, too.
And I think there are days when she just
rebels against the whole idea!

And I get that, too.
I’m not crazy about all the indignities
that come with an aging body.

Today, she forgot to put her ‘teeth’ in,
a bridge across the back of her mouth,
and a ‘flipper’ in the front.
Usually, you cannot tell that her
front teeth are fake,
and you can never see that bridge.

But today, there was no denying it —
there was a gaping hole where her teeth should have been.
And her blouse was gaping in a few places, too.
One of the drugs she takes — which has almost
eliminated some troubling auditory hallucinations —
very occasionally causes weight gain in a small number of patients.

And, of course! given our genetic heritage,
my mom is one of that number.
She looks beautiful always, but a few of her clothes —
especially blouses that button — just don’t work as well
as they used to work.

And part of me found these small things
deeply troubling and sad,
further evidence of the ways in which
my mother, as I have known her,
is slowly disappearing.

But as I’ve thought about it and prayed about it
throughout this afternoon and evening,
I believe I’ve been given a gift today,
an answer to the pleading of my heart,
my begging prayer for a way to love my mother
exactly as she is right now,
a teary request to find a path through the sorrow.

So tonight, I look back on our time together,
and I see my mother in an almost ethereal light,
I remember a radiance that I cannot explain except to say

that Jesus lives in her —
the her she once was, and the her she is at this minute.
And that lunchroom where we sat?

 Holy ground.

It was cold and blustery today,
too cold to take mom outside her facility,
too cold to go up and sit by the pool, as we often do.
So we sat together at the familiar tables
of her dining room, quietly enjoying
a turkey sandwich, Waldorf salad, jello.

And I watched as my mother smiled her beautiful smile
at every single person she saw.
I listened as she said to the aide,
“How would I get through a day without you?”
I heard her tell me, after we returned to her room,
and I set up a few small Christmas decorations,
“Oh, how lovely! Thank you so much, Diana.
I love you so much, I’m so glad you came today.”

By this time, we had found her teeth.
I had persuaded her to give me the blouse,
to store with her spring clothes,
which sit in a bin in my guest room.
She donned a new knit pullover shirt
in a beautiful magenta color. . . 

And there were no more gaps.

The truth is, there never had been.

Thanks be to God.

Joining this tonight with Ann, Jennifer, Jen, Emily and Heather:

 

 

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Comments

  1. I’m so glad that today you found the way to love her just as she is. It’s a hard place, but there is beauty there, too.

  2. So much love in you two gracious women.

  3. You live present to the present and the Presence. You see with eyes of love. You remind me of how fickle life can be and how steadfast love can hold me and others I hold dear.

    • I’m glad you see all of that in these words, Lane. It was just a late night spilling of the day that somehow became very important to me.

  4. Ro elliott says:

    Holy ground indeed…these moments “measure” in the Kingdom of God…I love how at each ‘hard’ turn in the road…you search Him deeper…finding new Holy ground to stand on!!!

  5. Gwen Acres says:

    I hope someday this walk with your dear mother will be published in a form beyond your Blogg. I read today in our local paper ( Qualicum Beach, BC has the highest percentage of seniors in Canada) that one in eleven seniors will have dementia. Those are such high numbers. And the condition affects all those family and friends that surround that one in eleven. Your writings would bring companionship and comfort to many who struggle with this ” long goodbye”.

    • Thank you, Gwen. I have no idea whether or not my words would prove helpful to others, but I’m thinking and praying about it. Time will tell . . .

      • Gwen Acres says:

        As a former Long Term Care Case Manager I was priveleged to walk with many a family through this transition. When I would go to make my assessment I always gathered up material to take to the family. There were the professional brochures but I would also look for the personal stories. So many folks walk this path alone. I will believe that “time will indeed tell”. 🙂

  6. Diana, this is beautiful and gives me hope for the years to come. I feel as if I’ve been catapulted into multiple new seasons as both parent and daughter this year as two of our children were married, both my parents have fought cancer, and our oldest son will marry the Sunday before Christmas. In the whirl of the joy and gratitude, I can’t deny the way I miss our old “norm” and the trepidation I feel in the face of all the changes. Thank you for sharing your story. I will treasure the memories, embrace the now, and look with confidence to the future. XO

  7. May God continue to pour in love
    to see her as He does
    His child, chosen
    perfect, beloved
    shining with His light

  8. Oh, Diana….this is just so incredibly beautiful. I can so relate because my best friend is going through this hard road…..I am going to share it with her. You are so precious and so is your Mom!

    • Thank you, Lori. And I remember that about your friend – you wrote a beautiful piece about that at BibleDude a couple of years ago, I think. Thanks for stopping by here and leaving such encouraging words.

  9. Oh, golly, Diana. This is spectacular.

    There were no more gaps. In your listening, your attentiveness and tending to her needs…in your truly seeing her….there were no more gaps.

    Wow. This is going to rest in my heart for a long, long time.

  10. Oh, I just love this Diana, its beautiful in so many ways. You honor her and wrote it so well.

  11. Diana,
    Once again a beautiful piece of writing and real truth! I hope you don’t mind but I sent my newsletter readers to the part of your blog that tells the story of this journey you’re on. Remembering you with love!

    • Of course I don’t mind, Nancy. If you think it might be helpful, I’m happy for you to send people here. Thanks for your love and encouragement.

  12. i didn’t get around to commenting on Dec. 4th, but I must tell you that this really touched my heart. My dad was my hero, the one who “got me” more than anyone else. It’s hard to see the changes and to be able to accept who he was and who he is. I have never been very successful at holding two opposing truths at the same time. I have been learning recently (a little) but this is a very hard one, you captured it well. Thank you Diana

    • Hey – the door is always open here, no problems with being date specific! I sometimes don’t get around to everything I’ve earmarked until a couple of weeks later! Thanks for these good words, Carol. I know that you get this at a deeper level than many. And the longer I live, the more surely I know that life is truly all about holding two opposing truths together. It really is. And I don’t always like it, either!

  13. Thank you, Diana, for seeing holy ground in new ways. It makes me desire to have better eyes for the holy, too. I love hearing about your mom.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

    • Thank you, Glenda. I love telling about her – most of the time. It’s helping me to sift and sort as I walk this journey with her to write about it. Thanks for your faithful encouragement.

  14. Very lovely, Diana. Praying for my own eyes to see beyond the gaps that seem to glare in my children, my church, myself. Thanks.

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