About a week ago, I read this post from Matt Walsh. He wrote about his decision to stop being embarrassed by the behavior of his 15-month-old twins. After all why should he be ashamed when his kids acted like kids?!
I don’t have children, but I could relate to his post. You see, I’d already planned a trip to Oregon. I’m going with my parents to the 75th Annual Bates’ Family Reunion. We’ll also be spending time with my brothers and sisters who’ve recently moved to Portland.
So many things to look forward to!
But a part of me was dreading it. As many of you know, my mom has Alzheimer’s. It’s bad. And if something happens that upsets her… well, she’ll start yelling. (Fortunately, it seems that “stupid” is the only bad word she remembers. I realize it could be much worse…!)
And the moments I dreaded happened. Almost right away. My brother, Jeff, pulled up at the curb to drop us off, and Mom wouldn’t get out of the car. She started yelling that she couldn’t do it, and of course, we were, “stupid, stupid, stupid!” for trying to help her.
In that moment, one of the firemen working at the airport came over and offered assistance. He hooked us up with a wheelchair, and Aja, one of the airport staff, escorted us through security and directly to our gate. Smooth and easy.
The second Alzheimer’s meltdown came when Aja pushed her wheelchair up the ramp to the airplane. Mom sat in the chair yelling, “No! No! No!” When we got her to the top of the ramp, she didn’t want to step up into the plane. John, one of the flight attendants, came over, took her hand, helped her into the plane, and walked her down the aisle to our seats. He took the time to make sure she was comfortable and that we had everything we needed. He offered words of encouragement to my dad as well, and told us not to worry about anything.
It brings tears to my eyes just describing it.
My mom is dying, and I hate it. I hate seeing her like this. I hate that little things can be so hard. I hate that I can’t fix her. And I hate that, as this damn disease drags on, it’s stolen my memories of who she was.
It’s funny when you think about it. We’re so surprised by death! Something universal. It happens to everyone, but it’s a shock every time.
This is where we live our lives, at the strange intersection of life and death, joy and pain. Grace and sin.
In this mixed-up world of ours, when you have the chance to give kindness, please do. It may mean more than you realize.