Golden Nuggets From a Tender Heart

by | May 20, 2008 | Family, Grief, Mother's Day

I am faced with the unthinkable. My dear mother, the one who raised me with such tender love and care, is no longer here. A wicked illness called Alzheimer has invaded her mind, robbing her of her memory, robbing her of even her ability to know who I am. It doesn’t help that an ocean separates us, that we are living in two different continents, that I am totally dependent upon the local family to care for her needs, and that this dependency leaves me feeling powerless.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that causes the degeneration of the neuro-cortex. Over time it robs an individual of his or her ability to think, even of his or her ability to recognize those who they love. It is a disease where short-term memory becomes non-existent, while long-term memory, especially memories of the distant past, prevail. Although this is usually a slow-developing disorder, in my mother’s case its progress has been dramatically intensified by the assault of a vicious cerebral hemorrhage. Within just weeks, my talks with my mother have gone from being perfectly normal to being garbled nonsense.

Deep in my heart, I know that my mother is still there, trapped in a mind that now refuses to bow to her will. I know that somewhere deep inside she still hungers to hear my voice, to hear me say the words, “I love you.” Even though she can no longer recognize this longing, I try to tell her those words every day on the phone.

With my head in my hands and my tears flowing freely, I realize that I will seriously miss the talks I was once able to have with my loving mother. Memories of the great times she and I have had together now assault my mind. One such memory dates back to when I was a young child. My mom, who loved to shop, would set out every day to buy the fresh produce and meats that she would need to fill our empty bellies. Though at the time her budget was meager, she always made sure that she brought home a weekly surprise for me. These were never expensive things, just knickknacks like a toy car or a Zorro mask; but these things were received like prized possessions. Not because they were valuable in any way, but because they showed me that my mother loved me.

I now realize that throughout her life, my mom has tried, in her own way, to show me how much God loves me. My Heavenly Father bestows me with much more than weekly surprises! He astonishes me with daily-hourly-even minutely presents. The only problem is that due to the rush of life and its activities, I often neglect to notice them!

Whenever I take the time to slow down however, to ponder my day, my week or even my last month, I am faced with undeniable evidence that my Heavenly Father had been directly involved in my daily living. Prayers uttered in the morning, often forgotten about by evening, are answered without my even realizing it. Numerous surprises appear. Sometimes these take the form of an email of encouragement from a subscriber who has no way of knowing what I might be going through. Sometimes they take the form of guidance in making a difficult decision. Whatever the form, it is always just what I need at the moment.

If only I would take more time to meditate on my day, I would feel God’s constant presence. It doesn’t matter how much I take His precious gifts for granted, however. He is always there, waiting patiently for me to notice Him, to spend the quality time with Him that He craves.

Although my mom is in a hospital in a distant country, I can only praise the Lord. Although I feel helpless and frustrated by her situation, I know that God is taking care of the one who brought me into this world. I will continue to shower her with my love. I will continue to try to make daily contact with her via the telephone. I will make sure that she hears daily those three simple words: “I love you.” I will also take the time to daily acknowledge the loving evidence that is all around me, the evidence that says loud and clear that my Father loves me.

Although my heart is broken over the loss of my mother’s mind, I consider myself very blessed. I am blessed to have known a woman who has loved me since the day I was born; and I am blessed that my Heavenly Father is part of my life and will never leave me or forsake me.

“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20 The Message)

“How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. 9 You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.” (Ps 36:7-9 The Message)

Happy Mother’s day, mom! I love you!

Rob Chaffart


Golden Nuggets From a Tender Heart