Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday's Trust - Unexpected, Sweet Nurturance Amidst My Grief

Me, my Mother, and Merry Katherine in 2003

(Merry Katherine was 16 years old. Mother was about to turn 90!)

Tuesday's Trust

Unexpected, Sweet Nurturance

Amidst My Grief

Home shortly after the Chattanooga Grief and Trauma seminar, I was called by my older sisters, Dianne and Lyn, to come home to Athens, Georgia to be with my 96-year-old mother as she was not doing well and my sisters were leaving Athens to go out of town to work for a few days. They were becoming quite concerned as for the past three to four weeks, Mother would not eat anything solid and was getting extremely weak. So everyone around her was trying to get her to drink as much Ensure and Boost (both liquids full of good nutrients for her) and water as possible.

Mother lives in our family home with full-time help to assist her through the day and night. My sister Lyn oversees her schedule, pays her bills, stays with her most frequently, and lives nearby in Atlanta. My older sister Dianne lives in Athens, but with a husband, children, and grandchildren, she has fourteen people besides Mother to watch out for. Thankfully, both of my sisters spend a good deal of time with Mother, overseeing her needs (and wants!).

Tommy and I arrived in Athens this past Friday evening, and I got right to work trying to help Mother and trying to assess what was going on to render her appetite so poor, and her body so much weaker (besides the obvious: loss of appetite). We had some extremely frightening moments there with Mom.

Mother weighs around 69 pounds, but is quite strong for her age. She can sit straight up in bed with no help and with seemingly little effort on her part. She can walk on her on, although we usually assist to keep her steady, or she will use a walker. She can get up in the night as she needs to, even climbing out of her tall bed to go to the restroom independently though one of us or one of her helpers tries to watch out for her. She is continent and very aware of her body, so she tells us when she needs to go to the restroom, etc. Her personality is intact. Her soul is intact. Her temperament is very sweet, (unless she is ordered around, and then, like me at times, she "bows up" and then can be resistant to anyone's requests). After her 96 years, her major struggle is that her mind comes and goes quite a bit due to the hardening of her arteries. Sometimes she recognizes and knows us; other times she can look at us with an expression that says, Now who are you?!

After 48 hours of fairly strenuous care, Mother's helpers and I, with God's amazing and merciful help, saw Mother break through to a much more stable place. We were all thrilled, including Mother. So the following is a synopsis of what occurred that Sunday evening, rounding out my first 48 hours with her. I wrote the following into the book that summarizes Mother's daily care, into which all Mother's caretakers write:

Around 10:45 p.m., Shirley (Mother's helper) and I took Mother to bed. I helped her to put on her pretty, soft, pink pajamas. Then as Mother and I sat on her bed, and Shirley sat across from us on her (helpers') bed, Shirley asked Mother if she would like to pray.

Mother said Yes and prayed the sweetest prayer, a version of which, I don't think - after all these years with Mother - I had ever heard her pray before! (Since Mother's mind comes and goes quite a bit, you can) imagine my surprise when she rattled off this beautifully moving poem, seamlessly. With the sweetest spirit she softly said this prayer (I am crying now over the tenderness of the moment):

"Jesus Tender Shepherd, hear me:

Bless Thy little lamb tonight.

Through the darkness, be Thou near me;

Keep me safe till morning light. Amen."

(I continue writing in the notebook:)

This has been a very sweet evening with Mother. During the whole weekend, I have been patting her and running my fingers through her hair frequently, enjoying the chance to love on her, touch her, and communicate nonverbally the deep love I have for her.

You can imagine my surprise then tonight after having watched the extreme weakness overtaking her body for the first 48-hours that I had been with her (rendering her almost catatonic at times), that on this, my final night with her, as I was sitting in a chair right next to her chair, just to be close to her...

Mother reached over and took a lock of my long hair into her hands saying it was so pretty, and that she loved the colors. Then she began to sweetly and patiently comb her fingers through each and every strand of my long, curly hair (that she could reach anyway) with patience and such loving gentleness. While she stroked my hair she also expressed her loving sentiments toward me (her baby girl: I am the youngest of her six children).

After watching this expression of love between mother and daughter, Shirley asked Mother if she was ready to go to bed. And even as sleepy as she had been all that day, Mother looked straight at her helper and said, "No!" as she continued to stroke my hair while telling me how much she loved me. After several minutes, Shirley asked her again, and Mother said Now, she was ready. So when we then took her to her bed, that is when she recited -- to the exact word -- that sweet prayer from her childhood from over ninety years ago...

Such a sweet, sweet evening for me to enjoy with my sweet, sweet Mother!

God so tenderly blessed this little lamb tonight!


Later that night, I found the rest of Mother's poem on the internet, proffered by a woman of the Methodist church. My mother had been raised as a child in the Methodist church. Here is verse two, and verse three that was added to the prayer poem at some later date:

All this day, Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care.
Thou hast warmed me, clothed me, fed me.
Listen to my evening prayer.

May my sins be all forgiven.

Bless the friends I love so well.

Take us all at last to Heaven,

Happy there with Thee to dwell. Amen

Mother, Dianne and her grandbaby Taylor, Merry Katherine and I in the middle, Lyn and Dianne's grandbaby Lauren, and Daddy (2003)

Daddy (2004) and Merry Katherine (2006) have already preceded us to Heaven.

Prayer - Contributed by a member of Winchester United Methodist Church


from http://home.pcisys.net/~tbc/bedpryr.htm (under the heading, "Less Common Prayers")
Pictures - mine


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