A visit to my mother's apartment caused me to confront my greatet fear.
My mom is in assisted living. She began to have a hard time functioning independently over a year ago. After a lot of paperwork and phone calls my wife found a place for mom to live and worked hard to find the funds to make that possible. Since moving in she has been safe and taken care of. She has people around her. There are activities that were not available to her when she lived on her own. Her medications are now carefully administered on a daily basis. All is good, but her mind is still slipping away.
My latest visit was the most difficult of all. In about 20 minutes of attempting to hold a conversation with her I may have understood 10 words. As with many Alzheimer's patients her speech has deteriorated to incoherent mumbling. It is a frustrating experience for both of us. At least her mind will not allow her to remember the attempted conversation by the time I say goodbye. The tragedy of the situation lasts longer in my mind and haunts me with my greatest fear.
My mom and I have not had the greatest of relationships. Years of living with her and my stepfather took an terrible toll on our relationship. Repeated confrontations with him confirmed in my mind where my mother's loyalty resided. She would always take his side and insist that I not cause disruptions in the home. I understand better now as an adult why she took such a stand. I was a financial liability and my stepfather was the only breadwinner. Still, I longed for my mom to defend her son against this man who had become the authority figure in our house.
Now many years after my mom and that man have been divorced, I still struggle with my feelings toward her. I have tried to be a good son even with my struggles. My brother and I have always made sure she has food, that her bills get paid, her medicine is refilled on time and that she is never without transportation to get to a doctors appointment. Now she is facing a struggle neither of us can protect her from. I have come to realize there is a greater enemy than death.
My greatest fear is uselessness. Please don't confuse this with worthlessness. Every living being has worth. But I fear that day when I am totally dependent upon others. The day when I can no longer contribute to the world around me. My mother's condition is a haunting reminder of Jesus' words,"I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work." (John 9:4) Jesus did not make this statement as he stood before Pilate about to be executed. He said this to His disciples as He stood before a blind man. Moments later Jesus would spit on the ground and make clay that He would place on the man's eyes. After washing his eyes in a nearby pool the man would gain his sight. I think healing people delighted Jesus. He loved to bring joy and healing into people's lives. Knowing that there would be a day coming faster than He wanted to admit, He advised His disciples that there would be a day when no one can work.
What has the Spirit of God burdened your heart for? What thing have you wanted to do, but have put off for a more convenient time? Those are questions I ask as head down the backstretch of my life. My mother's condition may have been hastened by poor life choices along the way, but who hasn't made bad choices? Who of us hasn't squandered opportunities to help others? There is nothing we can do about yesterday, but we have a lot to say about the time we have left. "So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90: 12