Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Deep Calls To Deep


As I have mentioned once before on this blog, my mom suffers from Alzheimer's.  For a number of years now, my family and I have watched as the incredible, smart, hardworking, loving, compassionate, funny, deeply spiritual prayer warrior that was Mom slowly slipped away.

Now, spending time with her is not the same.  Thankfully, she still remembers us.  Conversation is almost non-existent.  It is hard for her to put a sentence together. She will have a thought and start to say something but by the time she gets to the second or third word of her sentence she can't remember what she started to say. She is easily agitated and out of sorts, especially when she finds herself outside of her normal context.  She isn't herself.

Yesterday, I was spending some time with Mom while Dad attended a meeting and took care of some other things.  Mom and I did the usual...watched a little TV, went to Starbucks for a coffee and shared an oatmeal raisin cookie (she loves those).  I did some work while she 'read' the paper.  Then I decided to do something I hadn't done with her in a long time. I sat down at the piano and asked her 'Do you ever play anymore Mom? Do you remember how? Do you think it would come back to you if you tried?' The answer was no to all three...she remembered being able to play, but just couldn't anymore. She played the piano in every church my dad pastored.

Then I started 'playing' (I put the word in quotations because 'playing' is a bit of an exaggeration. I took a few lessons in the past and can 'play' some golden oldies very haltingly...that's about it).  I began to play an old chorus that nobody sings anymore.  I didn't sing...just played.  And something amazing happened. I suddenly became conscious of another sound. My mom was standing behind me singing every word! 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There's just something about that name. Master, Saviour, Jesus. Like the fragrance after the rain.' She sang the whole thing, word for word. My eyes are tearing up now as I type this, just the same as they did yesterday when it happened.

Then I thought maybe it was luck. So I played another one. Inside a minute, Mom had picked up the tune to 'Majesty' and was singing right along. 'All Hail King Jesus' and 'Jesus Loves Me'...same thing.

Most of the time, when I look into my mom's eyes these days, there's nothing there. It seems like she is somewhere else altogether. But I know now - her spirit is alive and well.

It reminded me of Psalm 42:7, 8.
'Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; 
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.'

Deep inside the shell that is now my mom, the things pertaining to God's Spirit still call to her. His song is still within her.  And in those moments of recognition, it is like the lights come on for a minute or two and she is her old self again.  A friend from the church where my parents attend told my wife that it is the same when my mom prays.  She used to pray...my how she used to pray! I am doing what I am doing with my life today because of that.  But I never thought she would be able to put enough thoughts together to pray a prayer these days.  Apparently not so. When she prays, she still prays like the prayer warrior we all remember.

It amazes me to think that there are so many people out there who think that God isn't real and that we are not spiritual people.  I think that this gives irrefutable evidence that we are spiritual first, and people second.  And that the physical house is definitely temporary and at some point, we can even be trapped in it. Waiting for our spirit to be freed into God's presence where there is no pain, no suffering, no sickness or tears and where there is fullness of joy forever more.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.



7 comments:

susanne said...

this is beautiful, jeff. thank you for sharing this glimpse into your—and your mom's—world.

Margaret said...

Jeff, thank you for sharing your time with your Mom, my Sister. I miss her and think of her often.
For me she always was/is a special sister, a loving, gentle, kind and fun sister. I loved to make her laugh and to hear her soft voice. Alzheimer intrinsically is an evil disease. it is a slow unravelling of all that a person once was. What are we after all without our memories: our dreams, shared loving moments, laughter and stories?
Watching the disease is like watching a slow motion picture of the inevitable loss of a loved one.
I was moved by your account of her singing and pleased that her spirit still lives. Love, Aunt Margaret

bellaverita said...

Your story reminds me so much of my own mother, who was diagnosed about 11 years ago with Alzheimers. She was and I believe is still a strong woman of faith. She always loved to sing and even now when words elude her, she still sings. I know she's singing for her first love. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, encouraging story.
-Angela

Janet said...

Jeff thanks for sharing this very touching story of your time with your Mom.
I have tears streaming down my face as I remember the times with my Mom who also shared this terrible "robbery" of a disease. Mom also was a prayer warrior, a very creative person who could sew and design bridal outfits without patterns, plus had a host of other abilitites. She worked circles around most people as she was so driven. it was so sad to lose her... sentence by sentence... word by word until she didn't recognize her 6 kids and all of her 3 girls became "Janet" and her 3 sons became "John" .She went from being our Mom to our little girl.
But when we would sing.. she knew all the words.. when we sat at the piano and played for her.. the light of her soul was reflected in her face.. God would bring us confirmation that she was still His child and He still had her in the palm of His hands.. and His spirit still resided in her! When she sat beside my dying Dad in the nursing home.. she looked up above his head.. and said "what's that" she saw something.. an angel!! We were not even sure if she knew he was breathing his last breath. At his funeral the last thing she said to Jordan was "that was a very sad day" and then to the preacher when we left the grave site "you did a good job".. so in the moments of our greatest distress.. God spoke thru my Mother even when she no longer could talk to us. Jeff enjoy every moment that God gives you with her... and don't miss our precious Father speaking through her still.. it's a tough journey for sure. The statement that Margaret said describes it well "like watching a slow motion picture of the inevitable loss of a loved one !

Justin said...

Wow Jeff. Amazing post. I'm reminded of how true what you said about us really being spiritual beings with just a physical shell...sometimes we forget that and I think it's so neat how God gives us little glimpses of himself in moments like these. Thanks for sharing guy.
Justin

wjacobson said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jeff. I have been amazed too, when I am on worship team, to watch Bev lift her hands in worship and sing EVERY word. Truly an example of how our spirits are made to connect with our creator, and He gives life to the words in your Mom's case. I am overwhelmed and in awe when I watch her worship. :)

Love you guys, thinking of you and praying for all of you through these days of challenge and change.

Raj Mathews said...

Thanks for sharing these precious moments. I can relate to this as my mom also suffered from Alzheimers.