Today I find myself with a longing that I cannot suppress and which almost brings me pain on Mother’s Day. My Mother’s Day wish—my daily wish—is for redemption and restoration. You see, my mother has dementia. She was diagnosed six years ago, and since then my siblings and I have seen her brain deteriorate to the point where she does not recognize me at all. I have not blogged about this because I do not know the right words to address it, and I would rather not submit my readers to my feeble attempts. Many of you know what is going on, and for those who did not before now, I apologize for not filling in this part of my life. It is difficult to process, difficult to discuss, difficult to know how to answer when someone says “and how are you handling [the fact that your mom doesn’t know you/is in a nursing home/has dementia]?” Oftentimes I am matter-of-fact to a fault—I can always tell by the stunned look on the hearer’s face. Other times the words get stuck in my throat and lodge there like a big lump I can’t work around, and if I say anything I will just burst with emotion.
Mother’s Day tends to get stuck in my throat. Last year was particularly hard. Fuller was two weeks old and I was in the glorious throes of postpartum hormones. It was also our first Sunday back at church. I remember being in a cozy little room, checking Facebook on my phone while I nursed my son. It seemed that everyone’s Facebook profile pictures was with their mom. Everyone was writing tributes about how wonderful their mom is (or was, if she was deceased). Mother’s Day got stuck in my throat and I thought I was going to drown. My mother deserves all the tributes in the world, but it was and still is hard for me to type them. That is my fault, not hers. Linda Phillips is no less worthy of praise because I cannot broadcast those words on Facebook. And she is no less worthy of praise because she sits in a nursing home without speaking and does not recognize her oldest daughter or many others. She is a marvelous woman, a child of God, and my beloved mother.
My mother’s dementia strikes home in different ways and at different times, but on Mother’s Day (last year, this year, every year), I rejoice even more in redemption, and long still more for restoration.
Redemption—God saved me. He used my family, my mother and my father, to teach me his word, to point me to the cross, and to walk with me along the journey of my spiritual life. He saved my mother. She is a blood bought saint of the Lord, even when she doesn’t remember it. I rejoice in her redemption. I praise the Lord that He has been faithful to sustain my mother, to protect and keep her, and I trust that she is resting in Christ even when her memory faculties are failing.
Restoration—One day all things will be made new. My mother’s body and mind will be restored, not only in heaven when she meets Jesus, but in the new heavens and new earth when the mind that has been corrupted and the body that is failing are repaired and restored and reconciled to their maker. Sin and disease destroy this world, and attempt to turn our affections away from Christ and the cross. As believers, we are still awaiting our final reconciliation and restoration.
Today, on Mother’s Day, and every day, I pray that I will rejoice more in my redemption—what Christ has done for me through his death on the cross. I pray that I will seek to see more family and friends and neighbors and nations come to faith in Christ. And I long for the day when all things will be made new through Jesus Christ. He is our hope and our reason for living.
Me with my mom, Linda, in July 2013
Happy Mother's Day