The Promise

7 10 2013
  • I think we all can agree that generally speaking there is no earthly bond as close as what a mother has for her cImagehild.  We can give great credit to fathers, siblings, spouses, and even friendships; they prove to be strong and important in our lives for certain.  But a mother, well she’s the one who first realizes that you’re in her, then she gently and protectively carries you for nine months.  She’s the one who holds, caresses and nurses you into life outside the womb.  She’s the one who dresses, feeds cares and prepares you for life in the outside world.  And she’s the one who because of this great bond ves you unconditionally her entire life.  Again, I don’t downplay the role of others, especially dads in nurturing a child, but the role that the mother plays truly stands alone.

    I suppose a portion of the reason I say and believe that is the part my own mother played in my life, having to be both mom and dad to me.  I saw first hand the hard work and sacrifices this woman made so that I might have it better than she did during her growing up days.  I may not have always shown it, but I did realize all she did for me and loved her for it deeply. One of the roles a mother takes on I didn’t mention is being your first playmate and making you laugh.  My mom was particularly good at this and I enjoyed her funny ways.  But I guess it was somewhere around my teen years I realized that mom was different from other women her age.  As I grew and changed, I noticed she didn’t; she seemed to stay in a more juvenile state than I did.  She could still be funny, but sometimes it was a little embarrassing how she carried on.  I later learned mom was different from others her age; you see she suffered from three infirmities.  The first and most obvious was a serious hearing loss that made her have to wear two hearing aids all her life.  The second was emotional issues.  This dear lady never fully experienced the bond I described since her own mother suffered and passed away from cancer at an early age.  After that her dad, who never had a close relationship with her sent mom to live with her aunt and uncle, a situation that offered sanctuary, but little in the way of love and kindness that a young girl desperately needed.  The third and hardest frailty to talk about was mental stability.  Mom could get along fairly well in the world, but she held the mind of a 12 year old, again a state that I sadly confess brought embarrassment to me back when I was young.  Well, after saying all that I’m going to wrap this section up by saying mom never got any better, but I did.  I learned to accept her as she was and who she was, the woman who gave life and much more, my mom.  I wouldn’t have traded her for anyone else in the world!  You see all of this was just to give you a feel for who I’m talking about today.  The main emphasis in this story was a promise, one of the only things she ever asked of me in life; and something that I could not do.

    The first time mom ever spoke to me of this “Promise” was when our neighbor became old, feeble and nearly blind and not having any family sold her home and moved into the local nursing care facility.  Not long after she got settled in, we went to visit only to find her sad and crying, she wanted to go home.  When mom and I left she turned to me and in a stern voice said, “Promise me you’ll never put me in a place like that!!”  “Yeah Ma, I promise, no nursing home.”  I didn’t care much for the place either so I figured that was something easy that was being asked.  When mom retired, she left Ohio and moved to Indiana to be close to me and my family.  She wanted her own place so we found a small house within a couple miles of us. Right away I realized something had changed with mom and not for the better.  She was demanding over little matters and would become agitated easily.  We weren’t sure what, but something was going on; it would be years before mom was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a disorder that affects personality, behavior and language.  Time went on and mom became slowly worse.  She realized something was going on and often felt remorse for her actions.  But then the words, the “Promise” would have to be reinstated. “You promise me you’ll never put me in a nursing home!”  “Don’t worry mom, you have my word, I promise.”

    Several more years passed and mom’s physical and mental health continued to decline. Her neighbors would call us if she did something careless that could cause her harm.  The decision was made that she would have to move in with my Lady and me.  We knew this wouldn’t be easy, but what options did we have; I made a “Promise” I would not put her in a nursing home.  During the three years mom lived with us, her condition worsened. She would fall regularly; she would go outside and wander off from the house.  Thank goodness the neighbors got to know her and would call if they saw her making a getaway.  We replaced our gas stove with an electric one because somehow she knocked out all the pilots and filled the house with gas.  The worst came when her illness robbed mom of the little hearing that she had left.  If I needed to tell her something, I had to type it out in large font so she could read it; the worst message I had to give her came October of 2007. No matter how much Cathy and I tried, we were not equipped to give mom the kind of care she needed, to keep her safe.  I don’t suppose I slept more than a few hours over the next three days before that moment she and I sat down at the computer and I explained to her she was getting worse, she was in danger of hurting herself badly, Cathy and I were doing the best we could but it just wasn’t enough; finally typing, “I’m sorry.  I love you dearly and I want the best for you so you’re going to have to go to the nursing home.”  Her recoil on seeing those words was as if I had just shot her; there was silence at first, but then the words came. “You lied, you’ve always lied, I trusted and you “Promised” me you’d never do this.  You just want to get me out of your hair and you don’t love me, and I don’t love you!”  Now I know this woman better than anyone on the face of the earth, and the venomous words she spewed at me, well she didn’t mean.  The day before we checked her in at the facility she apologized and told me she loved me.  I knew all that, but her words kept coming back to me, not because she believed them, but because I did.  Never in my life did I feel like such a failure as when I had to break the “Promise.” What did I do wrong?  What could I have done more?  I know she can forgive me, but can I forgive myself? “God, did I let you down as bad as I let her down?” The answer would come two weeks later when they had to rush my mother to the hospital. Mom had a hemorrhage that was causing internal bleeding.  It was in a region that if they operated it would surely have taken her life in the weakened condition she was in.  The best place for her was back at the nursing home where they could monitor and keep her comfortable until the end, seven months later.

    Romans 8:28 tell us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

    Gotta get to my point before I get too long winded and my eyes are quite blurry remembering this moment.  That point, Friends and Neighbors, is that if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, if you’re going to say I trust the One I call Lord; then you are going to have to realize that God has a purpose in all He does and allows.  Just as the verse says, for the “Good” of those who love Him.

    Ma lived into her 80s, most of those years she dealt with some sort of infirmity or disappointment.  But the one place she found no disappointment, no sadness or setback was in her Lord.  My thoughts, God knew that and the time came when He wanted her to have the best care she could get, right before He made her whole in Him.  My “Promise” was nice and heartfelt, but I came to realize it wasn’t in the plan, for His “PROMISE!”

    On mom’s last day on earth she spent most if it in a light coma.  When she came out of it for several hours she found me by her bedside, and she smiled broadly seeing the little boy she raised and loved.  During that time we held hands, watched Andy Griffith on TV, and laughed.  As I said she was entirely deaf by this point, but I believe she could hear every word I was saying, kind of a gift from the Lord for me at the end, but that’s another story.  After a while my beloved mother laid her head back on the pillow and fell asleep.  The next time she woke it was to a healthy body that could run and hear!  And I’m guessing she ran straight into the arms of her Savior who was saying these words to her, “Well done good and faithful servant, welcome home.”  We’re not “promised” in this life everything will be great, but in Christ there is a “promise” that He will always be with us in this life, and has prepared a better one yet to come.  Like mom, as a Traveler of Rock Road, that’s one “Promise” I can live with, eternally!  Awesome!!


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