Monday, December 8, 2008

An exacerbating circumstance

I'd meant today's post to be about a trip backwards from the promised land into the land from which Moses led the Israelites out of slavery.  About the symmetry of Old Testament and new, the fulfillment of that wilderness journey in the journey back to the promised land of one small family, one toddler who would bring fulfillment to the promise of eternity.  Replicating the eleven sons of Jacob running to Egypt when they were in danger of dying from starvation, a different Joseph also saved his family by living in Egypt.  I'd meant to talk of our journeys, sometimes around the same mountains--whatever they are, physical, mental, spiritual--that our ancestors also marched around.  How this toddler living his first two years in exile connects with the exile we somtimes feel when we aren't home with God.  I hadn't worked it all out yet--if I can tell you something that might seem strange to you--because when I write a post, just as when I write in my journal, my hands do the thinking, my fingers on the keyboard lead me in a direction that I don't necessarily imagine when I write the first sentence.  Ok, maybe you already guessed that, or maybe you think I'm just a little--or a lot--strange, but there it is.

But I am too distracted tonight by the events of the week, and particularly, of this day.  See, seven days ago, my mother tried to walk on air.  She took a step in good faith that she knew where the ground was, and instead, fell down a flight of stairs.  Between the time she went down to breakfast and lunch, she forgot what stairs are, and when her foot finally touched down, she'd broken her left ankle in two places, as well as dislocating it.  She had surgery two days later, with the firm instructions not to put any weight on it for 4 weeks.  This afternoon, however, she tried to prove her caregivers wrong, to show them that she was able to walk--again falling, this time breaking her right hip!  I heard this news--news the orthopedist called, "A pile of crap!"--while I was sitting in the airport, waiting for the flight to bring me to my old hometown, to help my sister, pack up my mom's things for her final move into the memory unit/cottages (so called to make them sound better).  Frankly, I was so tired this afternoon, I really wanted to just go home...until I heard my sister's voice.  The decision to come here was the right one, for sure.

Beve said tonight when I called him that this may be the beginning of the end for her.  She won't be too sorry, I think.  Crises, such as two significant accidents and the consequential surgeries, provoke sharp downturns for people with Alzheimers.  Even last week, that was clear when I tried to talk to her.  She thought the doctor had taken her foot, and she wanted it back. I didn't really know--how could anyone know--what this holey disease looked like until I faced it in someone I'm this close to. No matter what articles, books or movies I've seen, they seem benign compared to this.  I see the toll on my sister's face.  I hear it in her voice.  I feel it crawl up my own body when I have to try to reason with this person who is about the same age as that little boy in Egypt. 

She doesn't want to live like this.  Who would?  For the next 6 weeks, she'll have to be strapped in bed or a wheel chair, with someone watching her 24 hours a day.  It's painful to consider.  For anyone.  The good news is that she no longer really understands how bad she's gotten.  Shoot, she no longer even feels pain.  I've learned again the exquisite gift pain is.  Sure we hate it.  Some of us (me!) are quite the wimps about it. But without it, just imagine all the damage we might do to ourselves.  Exacerbate our circumstances--like leprosy of our souls, in a way.  Sticking our hands in fire without the pain that comes with burning.

So tonight, all I've got is this weighing on my heart.  If you read this blog, pray for us.  Pray for her.  May God have the mercy He exhibited in saving us, for my mom.

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