This piece is actually an entry in the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I highly recommend gathering with other writers to learn and grow. The monthly group that meets in Chester is open to any who are interested. Faithwriters is a lovely site and numerous on-line writing groups exist. Together, we learn to share the insights and burdens God gives us with others. The word is powerful. Handle it with diligence, nurture and humility!
ENTRY 10/23/2019 – TOPIC: FORGET
The conversations are weird…often repetitive, piercingly painful. “I’m Kelly, your daughter. Remember, Mom?” But Mom forgets.
“Who is that?” she asks pointing to a photograph. “That’s your mom. You used to tell me about baking bread with her. Remember, Mom?” But Mom forgets.
Actually, there’s not much Mom remembers anymore. She has forgotten herself, her life and a treasury of cherished happenings. She can’t recall her wedding or her husband’s death. Somedays she remembers her children…somedays she forgets them. She forgets to change her clothes—and even that she has clothes. She forgets to eat, forgets where she left her teeth, and her Bible. She loses track of the location of her room. She forgets modesty, manners and restraint. Mom has dementia…mom forgets.
In her forgetting, I’ve learned the necessity of remembering Truth.
In some ways, we need to realize we all share ‘mom’s reality:’ We don’t remember what we forgot, and we don’t know what we don’t know. But our not knowing and not remembering doesn’t change reality. What was, is and always will be…just like Jesus. Lasting Truth becomes most precious when dementia enters your world.
When dementia strikes, it steals the knowledge of reality for its victim and plunges others into a parallel fake reality. One must learn to hold fast to what is real…to what remains. In dementia:
• Parents forget their children. The parent-child reality remains.
• Spouses forget their vows. The marriage reality remains.
• Treasured times are forgotten. The real-word happening remains.
• The soul forgets the values underlying its choices. The life lived remains.
Forgetting does not dictate reality, nor does it determine intrinsic value. Something much deeper than memories and happenings provide the substance of reality. Oswald Chambers says, ‘Redemption is the only reality.’ Dementia requires living on the solid foundation of redemption.
The truth of Jesus, His Crucifixion and Resurrection rests not on our remembering. Truth does not change when I forget. Just as mom is mom even if she forgets…her marriage, her joys and the values she built her life on also remain. Mom’s life is truth built from choices acted upon even though she now forgets the choices and the actions.
Reality is lived out truth…reality is what was, is and remains. Earthly reality is life LIVED. As the child of a dementia victim, you are evidence of that reality. You become the matrix for eternal life. At the end of Christ’s life, He spoke to His Father, saying, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Real life is ‘knowing God.’ To forget something does not negate it. Forgetting opens a gateway for another to remember the Truth that gives life and bring it into being through loving action.
Eternal truth overpowers dementia’s fake reality as you live out forgotten truths. Live out your earthly relationship (e.g. daughter, spouse) and allow God to work in that. When God revealed Himself to Moses, He used the phrase, “I am.” God is the God of NOW, the God of the present and He loves regardless of the fact that we forget Him, His love and His work on our behalf. Just as God calls us to remember His presence and His Truth as we walk through the valley of death, we emulate Him as we lovingly walk our loved ones through the valley of dementia.
Dementia is nothing but a lying thief posing as reality. It is the embodiment of the devil, who came to steal, kill and destroy. Dementia robs people of their awareness of their memories, identities and purpose…but it cannot change True Reality. The stolen memories—what another forgets–becomes your matrix for imparting real life.
Love remembers what the mind forgets. Love repeats those treasured memories. Love affirms the identity. Love confirms another’s purpose for being. Love restores relationships, recalls memories and rebuilds upon the foundation of values already in place. Love takes what was and brings it into the present as a foundation for the future.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:8