Sunday, May 10, 2009

Safe in Loving Arms

This day would not be complete were I not to mention my dear mom. This is the first Mother's Day since her passing last August. That doesn't make me sad, as one might think, for I know that her joy today is far greater than any sadness of missing her. My mom succumbed to Alzheimer's over ten years ago. Once that disease had taken hold, it kept her. It's like a prison cell; you can see the person through the bars, but the cell gets darker with each passing day, week, month, and sadly on into the years. Unlike a prison cell, where a good prisoner may one day be released, Alzheimer's takes it's prisoners for good. There is no release until the final, and brilliant release. Because my father, who looked after her until his own passing, was very protective of Mom and her condition, I did not see her illness coming until it was too late.

Too late to talk with her in a conversation that both of us understood. Too late to ask her questions about her childhood, motherhood, losing children....the kind of questions I didn't think to ask earlier for the simple reason that I myself wasn't mature enough to ask them. As I have gotten older, the answers to those questions became something I desired. I may not have known how to ask some of them before, maybe still don't now.

As a small child I would wake suddenly from nightmarish dreams. I don't recall any of the dreams now, but I do remember my mother's remedy. There was an old rocking chair in the front corner of our living room. It was one of those chairs that if an unknowing guest sat in it and leaned back, they were in for a thrill. It would tilt back so far you were sure you were going over backwards. It never would of course. To that chair my mother would take me in the sad early morning hours when I had returned grimly from another world. No matter how far the dragon had dragged me, no matter how high I'd had to climb to escape the fiercest lion, no matter how deep the water into which I'd plunged, my mother could pull me free. Once she had me, she wasn't letting go. In her arms, hearing her softly singing, and hearing the wooden creak of the rocker as it neared it's furthest tilt, I would be restored. Slowly, lovingly, tenderly, unconditionally.

In the morning I would awaken rested and free from the lingering distress of the previous night's journeys in the dreamworld. Mom never spoke of them either, it wasn't necessary. She was doing what a mother would do without thinking.

Now I wonder about what journeys she had to take, not only the fears of the night, but the real-life trauma of the day. She lost my brother, only a year old, just a year before I was born. Two years later, she lost my baby sister. My youngest sister, who came along healthy and strong four years later, once told me "No wonder Mom held onto you so tight; she was so afraid she might lose you too." I don't know, but maybe she's right, we can't ask Mom about it now.

This I know for certain Mom; you sang in the church choir almost every Sunday and the hymns I heard told of a heavenly place far greater than anything we could behold here on earth. (for me that's like saying it's even more beautiful than Yosemite, and I believe it) Those hymns told of a loving God who pulled us from the deepest depths to the highest glory, because He loves us so. Like the rocking chair where you let me fall gently back to sleep; where I felt safe and secure, I know you are safely held now by a great and wonderful God, secure in the promises He gave us in His word. You are in a real place, not just something conceived by the human mind. I am thankful for that now on this Mother's Day, and so happy for you Mom, for you have been granted a brilliant release.

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