Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stealing a life

First it took his short term memory.   Remembering what you had for breakfast, where he parked the car or how to get to familiar places.  Then it was as if it was eating through his memory year by year until he could no longer remember that he was married and that my husband was his son.  He could not recall his grandchildren whom he loved immensely.  He would talk as if his parents, long past, were here and he was a small boy.   He would sit and read his Bible all day and when it took his proficiency to read, he would still sit with it on his lap and grip it close.  The last memories to go were the scriptures....he could not tell you what year it was or where he lived but he could recite scripture word for word for years.  Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks.  He is as good as they get.  Through it all he has been kind.   Through it all the eyes glistened with life, with the love of Jesus.  He would not be able to follow the conversation but would smile and laugh anyway.  He did not know who you were but he was just as thrilled to see you. 

It stole his ability to drive, to remember to take his medication, to handle his finances.  It was no longer safe to live on his own.  It ripped the independence out of his life.   The most devastating of all, it took his capacity to pastor his church.  A church he loved.  A church he gave his life to.   The disease claimed his right to brush his own teeth, clean and dress himself.  It claimed every physical skill he possessed.  Except for breath itself.  That time will come.

Alzheimer's.  Brutal, vicious, life stealer.  Grief after grief stacked on top of one other for each capability that is taken.  Now he sits.  No longer able to communicate.   No longer able to move himself.  No longer able to engage with you or even to smile that smile.

In all of that, he was faithful.  In all of that, we are faithful.   It can not take his faith.  It can not steal the love of Jesus. It can not pilfer the victory that Christ already won.   Alzheimer's, you may be able to pillage my father-in-law's memories, his physical abilities, his independence but you cannot claim him.  Jesus did that long ago and he graciously accepted.  I know with all of my being that he will hold a special place in heaven for the way he loved Jesus and the work he did for the Kingdom of God.  I know he will be honored to see the hundreds of souls in heaven he had a hand in bringing to Jesus.  I know he will be blessed beyond his wildest imagination and his eyes will brim with tears of thanksgiving and they will glisten again.  But until then he waits.  In the mercy and love of our Lord, he waits.  In the quiet stillness of his life it is my prayer that he feels the presence of God in his heart until He calls him home. 

My husband is there with him now.  Caring for him.  Reading to him.  Holding his hand.   I've seen it often.  Daddy lived with us for 3 years and I was blessed to witness it.   It is in those moments that my husband is the most beautiful to me.  It is in those moments when he so gently cares for his daddy, when he so patiently helps him to eat, while he cleans him and allows him dignity and honor, it is in those moments I see who my husband is.  Whose my husband is.  It is in those moments that I see the character and integrity of the very man he is holding up shine from the heart of my husband.  It is in those moments that I am at once so very thankful for the legacy given to Trevor and equally struck by the enormity of the responsibility of the legacy we will leave our own. 

Incredibly thankful today.  Indebted to my mother and father in law for offering the love of God to Trevor.  Humbled by the man I am blessed to call husband.  Praying for others that battle this disease.  Focusing on living a life worthy of the legacy we've inherited.  

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