Monday, March 29, 2010
I am one with the limitless grace of God.
These words from the poem "I Am There" by James Dillet Freeman beautifully describe God's grace in action.
Do you need me? I am there. You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by. You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice. You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
God's grace is constant and true, providing all I could ever ask for, and more. Grace is at work within me and around me. It is the light that illumines my path, the wisdom that guides my thoughts and actions, and the power that fills me with strength and peace.
This DAILY WORD reading is particularly significant today as it reminded me of the wonderful changes, rebirth, and growth that mom went through from the time that dad passed until she joined him.
We’ll start with Dad. The last years of Dad’s life were, at most, difficult for dad and every one around him. They were even more difficult because of his illness and the medications which no longer seemed to be controlling his long time blood cancer illness.
Mom and Dad’s move from Florida to Fort Worth was a mixed blessing. Most of their friends in Florida had passed, there was no family there for them, and they were finding it harder to live on their own. Texas was ideal because lots of loving family awaited their arrival, they found a beautiful jewel box of a home not to far from family, and the weather was not too severe.
It was difficult, however, for Dad to adjust to the move. He was ill, he was old, he was confused with dementia. Now 87 years old, he couldn’t do the things around the new house he used to be able to do twenty five years earlier when they had first moved to Florida. Mom had given up driving by now and even with her help navigating, he didn’t do too well driving in Fort Worth traffic. While he loved being with family he had trouble dealing with the noise and activity level and late hours of his daughter and son-in-law, a grandson, two granddaughters, their spouses, eight great grand children, and several dogs.
During these difficult times, mom and I had a long conversation about the concept of GRACE. We all get older, we all die. None of it is easy but one can do it gracefully. Grace to me means not bringing down others, knowing that they are doing their best. Sometimes life is a bitch. Sometimes we feel like we hate others who bring us pain. But we do not have to accept the negativity of the situation and can look for the truth behind the circumstances. We can do our best to control the only person within our power ... ourself. When we can remain positive, others can follow. Grace, the elegant power of unconditional love, for others as well as for oneself, works miracles. The next day, I found a colored glass stone at a religious shop with the word “GRACE” engraved on it and gave it to mom. I think she took it to heart. For a while we both called her “Grace” in place of her a first name or “mom.”
At 88, Dad passed. It had been a difficult year in Fort Worth for both Mom and Dad with all the new adjustments and his illness. It had taken a toll on Mom. She was an octogenarian as well, had put much energy into helping Dad physically and emotionally and had health problems of her own. She moved in with Libbe & George, her daughter and son-in-law & slowly regained her health.
An interesting phenomenon occurred. Her attitude began to change. All the parts of life she had sacrificed because of Dad, all the things she loved but gave up doing because Dad hated them, all of the ways she had closed down ... began to shift. She began to enjoy life again. She started reading again. Not just reading but reading voraciously, keeping two or three books going at a time and sometimes finishing a book in a day. She could “Go Out for Chinese” whenever she wanted to, she now stayed up until all hours of the night, she enjoyed being with the grandkids, she could got to movies as often as she liked, she made new friends, she learned to eat Sushi!
Over the next four years she had her health ups and downs, made quite a few visits to the emergency room, gave family a few end of life scares, started using a walker, and obtained the help of a wonderful person in the name of Latonya. Her attitude stayed positive, she loved life, she enjoyed her family. She continued to be bright, thinking, and intelligent. She kept track of her medications, paid her bills, arranged for her doctor visits, mailed birthday cards, and traveled.
In her final days, she identified the beginning of pneumonia and got herself taken to the emergency room. She got worse and then she got better. She got worse again and her kidneys began to fail. She knew her life was near the end and she spent time with each family member privately. I assume she told each one how much she loved them, what a beautiful person they were, and not to be too sad when she had to leave them. She talked about making “arrangements” with her son-in-law George, her best friend as she called him. She held her daughter’s hand and told Libbe how much she loved her. She talked to her son Michael and her favorite Gregory in Chicago two and three times a day and had his their picture on her hospital bedside table.
At the end she was moved to Hospice. She was ready to go, didn’t want the hospital to poke and prod her anymore, wanted peace. After settling into the Hospice, she was given a few sleeping pills to help her rest. She died that night in her sleep without having suffered to much. She had hoped for that. Don’t we all? She lived the final years of her life in grace and she died gracefully.