Postcards of Hope
I have been blessed to share a ray of hope from my experience with my Mama over on Stories of Hope in God (no longer running online).
Anita Hunt “runs the Scattering the Stones Christian ministry … a place of peace, praise, and prayer, with the aim to encourage you; focusing on the gifts of grace, joy & hope, with a thankful heart.”
She and her husband “live in the beautiful county of Dorset in England.”
Anita shares that she “had the pleasure of studying at Bible college, gaining a degree specialising in Theology and Pastoral care.” She says, “God called me to be a Christian writer sharing His love, hope, and Good News in 2011. My heart’s desire is to walk alongside those who are in pain, reflecting God’s love and grace, and share the Hope of the world (Matt 12:21).”
Stories of Hope in God is a part of her ministry and is a special place to sit awhile.
“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:6 ESV
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 ESV
I would cry the first line of words out over and over again as I would leave the nursing home where my mother had to spend the last five years of her life. She took a terrible fall, shattering an ankle and the bones in her lower leg. So after surgery, she would never be able to fully walk again, although she could stand up momentarily and get around in a wheelchair. Previously, as well, her mind had slipped into a roller coaster of dementia-ridden fear, repetition, accusation, jealousy, confusion, and hallucinations. The diabetes she got at age 55 turned to Type 1 at age 85, making her insulin-dependent until the day she died at age 98 years and 10 months.
I loved my Mama dearly. She loved me, my sisters, and her one and only grandchild. She lived near me the last fifteen years of her life. I watched and lived my Mama’s life daily. I loved to see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her motherly arms around me. A mother’s love is mighty precious. As her mind diminished, I found it most difficult to watch her change from a proud and strong woman to a dependent and often confused woman. Mama raised us three girls alone after Daddy died from Pancreatic cancer. We were only 12, 10, and 7. She had her hands full raising three girls in the 1960s and 70s, but she did it. She was pleased and proud of us all after we got through those rugged teen years. She loved us through the hard places though and never gave up on any of us. She was one of those gals during World War II who went to work for the war effort. She married a Navy doctor. She owned a dress shop. She took care of herself, physically and mentally. She was just an amazing lady. But over time, not much it seemed, she changed so much that the mother I had always known was vanishing. She had vascular dementia. So as this disease diminished her mental abilities, along with the physical struggles, I came to see my Mama was just as vulnerable as I had been when I was a child. She needed to be handled with respect, dignity, and loving care. She needed strength when weakness overtook her.
As her daughter, I came to know a mother who I was quite unfamiliar with, but wanted to know. I wanted to learn how to be the kind of daughter who could also give her the best care. The nights when she would be so angry over something imaginary, or when her blood sugar would be extremely low and she needed to be hand fed, or the times when she would scream at a hard-working, poorly-paid staff member, I would be all torn up inside. I was the one who needed care sometimes. Yet, I would hold up while I was with her, calling upon the LORD to calm me and her. When I would leave for the night, I would walk toward my car and cry out to the heavens, “How long, O LORD, how long?” Not that I wanted her to die for I would (and do now) miss her terribly, but watching her mind go through so much, getting a very odd and extremely painful cancer the last year of her life, continually left me in stress and anguish over my Mama. It all went on and on, and I just wondered if God had forgotten about her, about me.
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. Psalm 13:3-4
But He had not. God never left either of us. The number of Mama’s days were in God’s hands. God was our strength. He is the LORD Who sees, Yahweh Roi. He knows and sees all. God was drawing Mama closer to Himself all along through prayer, through the precious witness of a kitchen staff member who would share her Bible study on Mom’s clear-minded days, and through the divine appointment of a Christian caregiver who came to be with Mom two nights a week so that I could spend those evenings with my husband. And I know that God, Yahweh Roi, took her to heaven on that final numbered day. He also drew me closer to Him through His Word, through the love of my husband, through His children on staff, and through quiet moments with Him as I sat with Mama during her sleeping times, or when I was on my knees in prayer before Him, or when I was alone with His Word on my lap. Yahweh Roi, the LORD Who sees, never left me nor my Mama. Drawing near to Him grew my relationship with the LORD and gave me peace and hope as I drew upon His power and might. Through His love and hope for Mama’s future and mine, I have been reassured of His Presence and Omniscience in my life. I know that I have a hope in the LORD that is truly unsinkable. I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6
Father God, I do rejoice and sing to You. You truly have dealt with me bountifully and lovingly for I never walked alone through the many years caring for my mother. During the hard times, you were with me, even when I forgot. During my weaknesses, you never stopped holding me up. As I walked around unknown corners, I would find You there waiting for me with the caress of Your Godly love. Oh, Father, You have blessed me beyond my thoughts. I know that my mother is with You and that I will one day be there too. Your bountiful gifts never ceased even when I could not see them. I look back and know that You were always there. You are my God Whom I trust and sing to today because You have sustained me, loved me, comforted me, answered me, and, most of all, tenderly cared for and brought salvation to my Mama. In the Perfect Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.