Facebook Memory: November 5, 2014. Six months later after this posting, mama fell in rehab, hit her head, attempting to get to the bathroom, 3am in the morning. Hours later she was rushed to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage from which she never regained consciousness. She was recovering from hip surgery and it was going well up until this point. Prior to this, she had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for a few years; 2014 was a turning point as far as the severity of the disease. When I came for an extended visit to give daddy a break and spend sometime loving on mama she hardly recognized me. It was then that I truly started to grieve. I will always cherish the time I was able to be there. In spite of the heartache at times, I experienced a deep joy in loving them and pouring into them. I was very aware of the faithfulness and goodness of God during this difficult time. There were tears and laughter, but love was always in the mix. :
“Wednesday, November 5th, 2014. We went to the Senior Citizen’s Center for Spaghetti and bingo. I took a picture of the last of some of daddy’s flowers that he brought in for mama. Pretty with the yellow deck in the background. After bingo we head out the door and drive down the road to Uncle Billy’s Barber shop. We usually sit around and chat while he cuts hair. Sometimes the customers join right in with the mini ‘ family’ reunions. Laughter and tales of days gone by oft come up. I learned this day for instance from Uncle Billy, that their mom, my grandma Atwell…or granny….had no sense of smell. He said it was because of a run in with a skunk…a direct hit in the face. I love these little meetings….and I love his barber shop where he has been cutting hair for about 30 years. The building has been there since the early 1900’s. Most of the adjacent storefront shops are empty, including the Crawdad Hole where many of the locals came for years to grab a bite in the little cafe and then listen to a little bit of bluegrass, country and gospel. Uncle Billy said this little strip will soon be a relic of the past. It truly feels like you’ve walked through a time warp into the past….a lot of history there.”
Over the last week or two I’ve been struggling to find time to sit down and write a blog. We are in transition right now and when I finally think I have time, something comes up. A lot of things are being put on the back burner or falling through the cracks. I haven’t had time to read blogs or connect with others much, as I’m just a wee bit overwhelmed with life right now (maybe I shouldn’t confess that) but I AM being pulled in many different directions. It’s not all bad, mind you, and God is definitely in the midst of it, answering prayer in miraculous ways.
There are ongoing medical visits for me as I try to get the diabetes back under control, and though I am on an insulin pump, it’s been scary at times, especially at night when my sugars have dropped, and now they are often elevated. I was given an opportunity to have a one week trial of a Dexcom: a Continuous Glucose Monitor which tracks the blood sugar. It will set off an alarm if my sugars go too low, or begin to climb, and it also indicates how fast or slow it is dropping or climbing. I was approved by my insurance company, and my Dexcom arrived a few days ago. On Friday of this week, I am happy to say, I will be getting hooked up, and I am hopeful this will help me to regain some control. The doctor also wants me to have a ‘gastric’ test to see if I have any neuropathy (nerve damage) in the gastric tract, as that could also affect my food and insulin absorbtion. I also, requested that the doctor change my insulin from Humulog to Novolog, as I began to suspect my body was beginning to resist that particular insulin after years of use. So, yes, that’s been an on going stress factor in my life, but I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
The other major transition, and it’s a biggie, is the process and ultimate moving of my precious mother-in-law to assisted living. As of now, we have just found a beautiful, Christian facility. That in itself is a true miracle. I had put her name into a couple of places over a year ago but the waiting list was at least two years, and even then, the fact she would be on Elderly Waiver, meant there were limited spaces available. It did not look like anything would open up. We were working with an organization, looked at two places, and the second place left my husband, myself and my mother-in-law feeling discouraged. In fact, she teared up.
I had sat in my office earlier that week, and though we were working with a great organization, I had seen Auburn Manor online, and thought to myself, and said out loud to the Lord, ” That would be the perfect place!” I began praying that somehow God would open the doors. So, against all odds, I wrote them an email. To my surprise, I received an email and a phone call from the manager. I missed the first call, so I called back right away but had to leave a voicemail. The weekend came and went, and on Monday the manager called me again in the morning. I asked him about rooms and the fact LaVera, my mother-in-law, would need to be on Elderly Waiver (government assistance). He says, ” We have two Elderly Waiver openings.” At that point, I could hardly believe it, and asked him if there was a waiting list. He assured me there was none. I knew God was answering not only my prayer, but that of our friends and family! I knew I needed to act quickly, and made an appointment for the next day. LaVera was near tears, and I just felt this overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude towards God. After we met with the manager at Auburn Courts, it was confirmed, this would be LaVeras new home; a place that I am sure she is going to shine bright with the love of God. When I returned home, I called the organization we had been working with, spoke to the owner, Rick, and told him we no longer needed his services, he was very happy for us but shocked at the same time! He said that just a week and a half ago he had talked to Auburn Manor and there were no openings! Honestly folks, this was a miracle, there are less than 50% of assisted living places that take Elderly Waver, and on top of that there are few openings available period! I would say, God’s timing was and is perfect!
Here is the lovely lady herself, and though it will still be difficult to let go of what was, she knows that God loves her and is working everything out to her good. She can come and go as she pleases (she is still very independent) will have a great community to thrive in, Bible Studies, volunteer opportunities, events, ladies luncheon’s, three meals a day, nursing on staff at all times and more. Truth be told, this is not easy for any of us and I’ve shed a few tears grieving for her, too, but my heart is at peace. ❤ I know hers is too, she slept like a baby for the first time in days that night! I’m so grateful God is with us through this journey called ‘life.’
From the time we are born into this world until the time we leave it, we are always in a state of transition or flux (continuous movement, instability, inconstancy; going from one circumstance, moment, situation, to another). During childbirth, the transition period when the contractions start and the baby begins to move through the birth canal can be and usually is the most painful time. This can be true in life too. Looking at the state our world is in right now, there is no denying that there has been a shift, and we are in transition, the Bible calls it ‘birth pangs.’ (Matthew 24)
I just turned 64 years old, on August 23rd. It felt like any other day, to be honest, and though we celebrated, I felt like I was 25 years old again, questioning God about the ‘purpose of my life.’ Quite frankly, I had been feeling like the baby who is ‘stuck’ in the birth canal, perhaps more like the ‘mom’, wondering when the baby is going to be birthed, and tired or weary of waiting. It’s not pleasant, and though I had two C-sections, our first was stillborn: I was induced and the contractions were excruciating! I know full well, that God is faithful, and He is a God that fulfills and keeps His promises, but as the word says, ‘the flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing.’ So, I continue to wait, pray and believe, that what He has promised He will do.
One of the areas I find myself struggling in is my health: Diabetes. I’m used to being a little more in control, and now I’m floundering. I manage to keep myself up most of the time through worship, prayer, the Word, and a sense of humor, but there are certain days, my health affects my outlook. It’s been called the ’emotional’ disease. I have been visiting my diabetic nurse educator almost every week, and soon will see my doctor again also. I’m in transition when it comes to my health. I have had some bad experiences with very low blood sugars (which put me in the hospital two times since the end of December), and have caused me to panic when they start to drop, because I’m never sure how low they are going to go, so most of the time my sugars are elevated (not good long term). I am soon to get a Continuous Glucose Monitor (Dexcom) which will help me monitor when my sugars are going up/down/ and how fast or slow. This should help tremendously. It will set off alarms when and let me now either way. I’m blessed to be able to have this kind of technology available to me.
Our family is also going through transition right now. In recent years we have experienced the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and my father-in-laws passing, then my mother 6 months later. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, saying good-bye to my mother. Over the last few months, my mother-in-law has had to give up driving, and we are now in process of looking for assisted living which is very difficult to find, and the waiting lists are very long. We are confident God has this, and that she will find a good fit, but it is very stressful for her as well as for us. There are times I think about what she is going through, look at what she is giving up and I can’t help but put myself in her shoes down the road. There have been times I have wanted to weep for her as we have walked through this process with her, and the struggle for her to let go. It’s made me want to ‘lighten the load; just start tossing and getting rid of stuff I don’t need…all the unnecessary junk we tend to accumulate through the years. I’m letting go…things just don’t mean as much as they used too. When I start to go inward, I think about friends and family who have had to let go of loved ones, forced to evacuate due to fires or flooding, sink holes, dealt with health issues worse than mine and the list goes on.Transition can be very painful and life altering, but it can have it’s rewards too. I’m very thankful for the Presence of God in my life, and that I do not have to walk this walk alone.
I don’t think this is a bad thing, this transition, although it can be difficult and overwhelming at times…I fully expect the end result to be good. Aren’t we, as Christians, going from ‘glory to glory?’ I constantly remind myself, God is IN CONTROL, He knows everything that we are going through, every heartache, every struggle, every season of our life, He is there. He was there when I was born; when I was diagnosed with diabetes, the times I almost died. He was and is there during my greatest joys, my deepest sorrows, when I was overwhelmed with fear, when I was full of doubt and when I was full of faith. He will be with me when I transition to ‘glory.’ He knows us intimately…and during these days of transition, our time on earth, He will not forget us nor abandon us…those of us, called according to His name. ❤
This is me through the years starting as a baby – high school graduation (last picture). A lot of life, love and laughter. I look at these pictures and wonder, where did the time go, and who is that ‘stranger’ looking at me in the mirror every morning and every night: Okay, okay…sometimes I look more often, but at my ‘age’, I see every line and wrinkle; perhaps against all odds, I’m hoping that the latest ‘anti-wrinkle’ cream I am using is REALLY going to produce a miracle like it says it does. So far, no such luck. Nope. Not til Jesus comes to take me home will I be without ‘spot’ or ‘wrinkle’, says so right there in the Bible. 😉 Well, maybe I’ve taken it out of context…but sometimes if I don’t laugh, I think I might cry, and believe me, after the cataracts came out a couple of years ago, I came close. One day I thought I was looking pretty good for my age, and the next day ‘bam’, right between the eyes…, I mean right between my eyes, those little crinkly lines, not to mention every crevice and spot on my face suddenly became much clearer! Of course, the up side was seeing colors and everything more vibrant and alive…who knew that the ‘orange’ facial scrubber I was using, was actually ‘hot pink’, and the shirt I thought was orange was a ‘hot pink’. Thinking how many times I thought I was wearing black with matching black shoes, to find out one was black, the other blue?
Let’s be real here! In a few days I’m going to turn 64 years old. I’m trying to embrace who I am NOW, not yesterday, bite the bullet (we really don’t have a choice), continue to laugh, love and live. The Bible says there’s enough trouble today, so don’t worry about tomorrow (paraphrased), He’s going to be there for all my tomorrows as He was for all my yesterdays, and today! I think it is wise to plan for the future, but it’s never wise to worry (and this is something I have to lay at the feet of Jesus daily…some days I win, others I really struggle).
Forgive me for rambling just a little bit today (you know us ‘old’ folk do that from time to time, eh)? I got to looking at some of these old photos today of myself through different stages of my young life. I started out pretty cute; chubby and wrinkly…and I was thinking to myself, how ironic that I’m probably gonna end up that way too, yeah…chubby and wrinkly, though if someone calls you ‘cute’ when you get older, it’s usually more about your ‘behavior’, or some quirky habit you’ve picked up unknowingly as you’ve aged . Not too long ago I read a police report about an ‘elderly’ woman, 63 or 64 years old, whose car was rammed into by a desperado who was driving a stolen car. I thought to myself, “Elderly?” What were they ‘talking about?’ I was 63, and that sounded so foreign to my ears! Never would I consider myself or call myself ‘elderly!’ I cringed at the mere thought of being called elderly at the ‘young age of 63.’ NO WAY was I going to accept what the dictionary (and some of our society) labels ‘elderly!’
(of a person) old or aging.
“she was elderly and silver-haired”
advanced in years,
long in the tooth,
past one’s prime;
hoary; in one’s dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent;
over the hill,
no spring chicken
Hmm, Some of these descriptions I can accept, but long in the tooth? Getting on? geezer? decrepit, doddering? I think NOT! Doesn’t sound like me at all, nor most of my ‘elderly’ friends! Not yet anyway, and when that time comes, and I do see it coming, I’ll let you know, or as my sister once said to me, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!’ 😀 In the meantime, I’m going to dance the dance of life, and celebrate everyday as a gift from God. As His Word says…I will rise up as an eagle, and my youth will be renewed as I wait on the Lord.
In all seriousness, though, aging gracefully is a struggle for many in our youth oriented culture, and has been for me too at times, especially when you feel ‘young’ but the ‘number’ keeps creeping upwards. Inevitably, we all age but one of the most beautiful of women I’ve ever known was my mother…she was graceful, her smile, the way she moved, gentle. She was always there for my siblings and I, and knew when to call and when to come. This is true ageless beauty; to love others and have a giving heart. God’s word says it best in 1 Peter 3: 3-4:
3 Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; 4 let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.
You Are So Beautiful To Me
The wrinkles on a time-worn face Can be symbols of God’s grace, If through our laughter and our tears His love has freed us from our fears. —D. De Haan
“Even to your old age, . . . and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” (Isaiah 46:4).
Yes, we can be assured that God will always be with us through every season. My advice: Love Deeply, Forgive Quickly, Laugh Loudly, Be Thankful. In our lives things are constantly changing, but we can be assured that our God NEVER changes and that His love for us is not dependent on our performance, nor what we look like on the outside, or even the crud on the inside. He just loves us. God used this song, ‘I Am’, along with the picture of mama touching my heart gently, to reassure me when I was in the throes of grief, that He is always with me. He is the one constant in life. The words to this song say it all.
Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today
I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your heart’s desires
Your heart’s desires
Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light
I know you through and through;
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide
Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest