How Much is Too Much?


My attention has been drawn back to the year 2007 when I was in a hospital emergency room experiencing heart attack symptoms. While there I met an eighty-four old grandmother who confided in me that it didn’t matter if she lived or died at this point in her life. As she poured out her sorrows to me my heart broke even more.

This wonderful woman had lost two adult children…one to cancer and the other in a car accident. If that wasn’t bad enough one of her grandchildren, at eighteen months, had died of meningitis.

I believe we met at that particular time because I needed her strength and courage to lean on. I had had lung cancer surgery two years prior to this heart episode, and my husband, now in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, was dying.

How much is too much? Only God knows.

 

Why Should I Get Involved?


The second prayer in Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To is God, Make Me An Instrument. The chapter is called Why Should I Get Involved, and talks about the many ways God sends suffering people our way when we say this prayer. Here is an excerpt from this chapter:

When you say to God, “Make me an instrument,” all God really has to do is channel some of these folks in your direction. There’s no need for him to perform any great miracles. No need for him to part the Red Sea. No need for him to send angels. He simply has to steer them your way. Like a conductor in a railway station who pulls a lever in order to make the tracks switch, God simply pulls a lever in heaven, and a veritable trainload of suffering people will automatically be rerouted in your direction! Then it’s up to you. You’ll have to figure out the best way to help them. It may be as simple as offering a kind word of advice or lending them a few dollars; it may be as difficult as donating a kidney or saving their life in a fire. Whatever you have to do, though, you can be sure that you will be able to rise to the occasion. If God sends you someone to assist, he is also going to give you the time, the resources, and the wherewithal to do it.

It was 1999 when forced retirement found me with so much time on my hands, I said a similar prayer, but instead of “God, make me an instrument” my words were more like “Please send me someone to help.” Looking back, I can see where that prayer led me to volunteer work in a long term care facility, and in 2000 into caring for my own life partner who developed Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. That was the peak experience of my being an “instrument”, as it eventually became a 24/7 caregiving assignment until his death in 2007. Today I am a member of the Pastoral Care Team at church, and God has sent several people my way who need either a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or just a hug. I love being “an instrument” even though I never considered myself as such.

Monday: What’s In It for Me? … God, Outdo Me in Generosity

 

It’s Called Alzheimer’s


Being in a pastoral care environment, dementia is one of the major issues we see. It has also touched my life personally, and inspired the following poem.

IT’S CALLED ALZHEIMER’S

My love, where did you go?

How many times were you warned

that you would make yourself sick with worry?

And you did.

Not that worry robbed you of memory,

but it left little room for enjoying your life

before it was claimed by dementia.

I look at the shell that is left of you and my heart hurts.

Your eyes are still sky blue,

but the twinkle is gone…replaced by a vacant stare.

When a hint of recognition breaks through,

my heart soars, only to plummet

as the flash of memory disappears once again

into the distance of the disease.

It’s called Alzheimer’s.

It has robbed you of your life, and me of my life partner.

©2006

To all whose partners have succumbed to this disease, and to those who are caring for loved ones while watching them disappear little by little, my heart and prayers go out to you.