Complete

and in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Colossians 2:10 (New Am. Standard)

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My beautiful Ladybug as a young woman dressed in her Sunday best.

Edited from thoughts I put on my phone app October 10, 2018:

I know from a scientific standpoint that it probably wouldn’t make sense to say that a person with Alzheimer’s could, in their final days, be cognizant or whole again. But, I would like to think that the week we spent with Mom in Hospice that she did have an understanding of the things we were telling her and even though she wasn’t completely alert that somehow she was comprehending.

I know when Dad told her he loved her she responded and tried to tell him she loved him.  I know when my brother’s family were with her she tried her best to sit up and engage with them.   And, when my Aunt Jenny’s name was mentioned she reached up her arms as if to hug her.

I know that she knew when my sister was by her side. It wasn’t until after my sister arrived that she slipped deeper into a sleep state, so I know she was waiting for my sister.  We all had moments with her and I know she was comforted to hear our words of love and affirmation.

The day I was telling her how beautiful she was and how I  was going to see that people read her poetry I know she perked up and understood what I was saying.  I also told her that I was going to do my best to see that all of her family made it to heaven. I feel that she was not just hearing me, but that she was understanding the way she would have before the Alzheimer’s. I think she was fully aware.

I just need to mention that even in the final stages of Alzheimer’s she responded well to us but there were facts missing.  She recognized love, and that we were familiar, but she didn’t always know exactly who we were.  There were many things we’d talk about, but complete comprehension of facts and details was missing.  Those are the things I think God restored to her that final week.  Knowledge of exactly who we were and full comprehension of what everything meant.   Those details that made the love even more special to her.

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 NIV

Science knows a lot, but there is much not known as well.  God knows all things including what science doesn’t know. With him all things are possible and his purpose will be accomplished. So, to me, it makes sense that in my Mom’s final days he could restore her mind and give her those moments of clarity as her loved ones told her their final goodbyes. I’d like to think it was God’s gift to all of us.

She is now completely restored and basking in the Love of her heavenly father. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Christ Our Only Hope

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Isaiah 15:55

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Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Is Death The Victory

What is it that comes trespassing on my threshold,

Trying to seize me as its prey?

It has come unexpectedly; a peculiar unwanted guest.

It seems to be a shadow, robbing self of its rest.

Countless times it comes to scores with me

In sickness, peril, or accidents unavoidable.

It is there, this dreaded enemy;

It seems to be allowing time, yet it has no timetable.

Is there no way to escape that my spirit might be free

From this visitor who at my appointed time will join ranks with me?

To think I could escape would be pretending a farce.

I’d be robbed all joys of living; left hopeless without faith.

Ah! There is another victor stronger than death itself.

By the eye of faith, I vision everlasting life.

My faith soars upward as on an eagle’s wing

Christ’s is the final victory; O death where is thy sting!

 

Written By Letha Bernice Tackett

Fall 1975

“I do believe Christ is the only hope.” Those words were written by my Mom at the end of the above poem.  She was right.  Christ is our only hope.  If we are in Christ, death has no victory over us. She is now enjoying everlasting life. Even in my grief, I recognize that the victory is now hers and I am happy that she is soaring on Eagles wings.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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See You Later

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.   Matthew 5:4 NIV

Recently I was with my life-long friend as she said goodbye to her sister. I knew how deeply her heart was hurting. I hugged her tight hoping that my heart would touch hers and she would feel a measure of comfort.

Several of you have let me know that you too understand how deeply it hurts to say goodbye to someone you love.

Goodbye is a word we use every day without giving it much thought. We say goodbye as we rush out the door on our way to work, or running errands. We pack for a trip and tell our loved ones goodbye.  But, when goodbye involves losing someone close to us it takes on significance. We realize that this is not a simple goodbye like hanging up the phone to end a conversation.  This is a goodbye that says it hurts to let you go, I’m not sure how to do life without you.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I remember as we were leaving Mom after she’d passed away, I told her goodbye and that I’d see her later. Specifically, I said, “goodbye my Sweetie pie, Honeybunch, Ladybug, Bernie Lou,” pet names for her that sometimes I said all at once to make her laugh.

Leaving her behind, knowing that our journey with her had come to an end was bittersweet. We were exhausted, not just from a week in hospice with little sleep, but also from several years of facing down the demon of Alzheimer’s.  In that context, letting her go seemed the merciful option.  Still, having to let go brought a crushing blow to the heart.

A blow that at random moments crushes all over again. Yet, in spite of the crushing, I feel stirrings of hope and I know my friend does too because for us, saying goodbye to our loved ones is not a final goodbye, but more of a see you later because as believers in Jesus Christ we have the hope of eternal life and seeing them again.  That is the comfort in the mourning.

I pray that you too have that hope in seeing your loved one again.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 KJV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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The Rainbow

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Journal – Thoughts from September 26, 2018:

The day we took Mom to hospice my cousin Patsy was with us.  She was a great support to us, not just during hospice, but from the beginning of the Alzheimer’s journey.  She is still in our corner and I am thankful for her.  We tell her she is the oldest child, Mom’s first child as Mom helped care for her when she was a baby.  She calls to check on us and she has come down to spend time with my father.  I don’t think we could handle this journey without her.

Patsy had a place in Mom’s heart long before she had her own children. Which is why I tell Patsy she is the older sister.

Patsy stayed with Mom that first night in Hospice while I took Dad home.  It had rained earlier and as we were driving home there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.  A reminder of God’s faithfulness.  I knew it was a message for us that all would be well. I remember going to bed that night praying for God to be with Mom and for his will to be done.  I was hoping for some kind of miracle; hoping that the x-ray they were taking would show nothing broken even though we’d already been told that it was more than likely. Still, I was finding hope in a rainbow.

The next morning when we arrived back at hospice the doctor came in and confirmed our worst fears, that she was, in fact, suffering from a terminal injury.  I remember letting the news sink in and going a little numb.  No matter how much you are told in advance, you are never truly prepared for the moment when you have to face the inevitable.  We made calls to the family and prepared to stay by her side for as long as she was with us.

That second evening my Dad planned to stay and Patsy was going to go back home with me.  Before we left we ran out to get dinner for my dad.  On the way to the restaurant once again there was a rainbow in the sky.  Another promise.  This time I knew the promise did not hold a miracle this side of heaven but instead was a reminder that God is faithful, even in death. It was something to hold on to. He would give us new mercies.

When we knew that Mom would not be coming home again and that we’d need to be making arrangements for a service, Dad said he wanted one of Mom’s poems to be put on the memorial card and read at her service.  While looking through her poetry I came across one she’d written in 1974 called, The Rainbow.  It was the only choice because God had already pointed it out to us in the sky.

The Rainbow - Bernice Tackett. take 2. edited

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Rainbow picture credit: Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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I Won’t Lose You

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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From the archives – September 21, 2015

I look out my window and see you standing there, all forlorn in your red jacket and shoes.  My heart breaks into a million pieces as you look around lost in another world.

I’m helpless to fix you. I wish I could take you in my arms, hold you tight and make the pain go away.

Memories of things said in haste flood my mind; things I wish I could unsay because I didn’t know. I didn’t know you couldn’t always help it; I didn’t know how bad you were hurting.

How we were all hurting.   Walking around in a fog trying to make sense of the new normal.  In many ways we are all ill – it has changed us.  We dig deep trying to find answers; trying to hold onto hope, but failing in so many ways.

I don’t want you to leave before you go.  I want you full and present while you’re still with us.  I know it’s not about me, it’s not about any of us really.

We’re the burden bearers reaching out to you to offer comfort, accepting the reality that it’s never enough.  I stifle screams for mercy and laugh with you over whimsy and words that have no meaning.

The laughter is the mask that helps us live, otherwise, we’d cry tears unto death.  We won’t give in without fighting.  I won’t lose you.  You are still you.,

I wait for a glimmer of your essence and thank God for you. I blink away tears as I watch you walk away and I pray for mercy, strength, and peace.

Later, I’ll cry those tears and hope they wash everything new again.

 

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I came across the above words from the blog archives last night as I was planning ahead for today’s post:

Journal – October 5, 2018

I still remember the day I looked out my window and saw Mom standing on the sidewalk beside her house.  She had on her favorite denim dress, red canvas, shoes and a red jacket.  Red was always one of her colors. I will never forget how she was standing there, staring across the yard.  She seemed so defenseless and I just wanted to run to her, hug her close and tell her everything would be alright. That memory still breaks my heart.

One thing that stands out to me was the resolve not to lose her.  It didn’t matter if she was losing memories, I would remember for both of us.  I told her on several occasions that she didn’t have to worry about what she couldn’t remember because I’d remember for her. And many times I did just that. She’d ask questions about people or events and I’d give her the answers. As many times as it took.

Another way that I held on to not losing her was humor.  She could still say things to make me laugh.  At times in the middle of a conversation, she would come out with a one-liner that hit the nail on the head that made us all take notice.  She loved to tease people and make them smile.

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Mom as a teenager teasing one of her nephews.

As devastating as Alzheimer’s is I’m convinced that if we hold on tight it can never truly take away the essence of a person.  Mom’s personality still shone through and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m starting to realize that even though she is gone now I can never truly lose her. She will always live in my heart and my memories. Maybe you can relate.

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I hope you don’t mind my sharing from the archives. Yesterday’s post was draining and in preparing for today’s I couldn’t find direction until I came across this old post and it somehow seemed like the right time to share it again.  Memoires are an important part of the grieving process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back MONDAY for more of the journey? I don’t plan to post on Sunday’s. Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Leaning Into The Curves

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My Aunt, Virginia Miller, better known as Aunt Jenny, leaned into her last curve and made it home on Friday, March 28.  On Tuesday April 2, we gathered and gave her a proper send-off.  It was amazing to see how many lives she touched over the years.  Many of them, like me, people who learned lessons from the way she lived her life. She was the third of my mom’s sisters to go home over the past five months.  A great loss for our family, but what a gain for them to be home with Jesus.

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A few years ago I wrote the following essay about Aunt Jenny, but never published it on my blog, or even shared it with her.  I kept thinking I would send it to her and I wish I had, but as with a lot of things in life, we never quite do all that we mean to.  I know she loved her family well, including her nieces and nephews.  I also know we loved her well.  I want to share the story with you today as a way to remember.

(Written January 10, 2011)

Aunt Jenny is the real deal. A bona fide woman of God. She loves Him. She lives by his book. And She trusts him with everything. I know this because I’ve known her all my life. And I know her family. I know where she’s been and I know where she’s going.

I remember one time we were going somewhere and Aunt Jenny was riding with us. She was in the backseat with my sister and me. We were on a curvy road. I don’t know what I said (I was probably secretly a little scared of the winding road), but it prompted Aunt Jenny to remark that the curves weren’t really all that bad; you just had to lean into them. And she proceeded to do just that.

So, here we were riding in the car, leaning into the curves whether we wanted to or not because Aunt Jenny was. At the time I remember thinking the whole thing was a little silly. I even remember my sister and I laughing about it later. In fact quite a few times over the years it sort of became our mantra – just lean into the curves. Wow, how little did we realize how profound that advice really is.

Now that I’m no longer a silly teenager, well at least no longer a teenager, It turns out Aunt Jenny was right. When riding in cars, if you lean into the curves they don’t seem so bad. They especially didn’t seem so bad a few years later when I had a guy and was in love. Leaning into the curves then was rather fun, but that’s another story.

I’ve come to realize that Aunt Jenny’s advice applies to life. Life throws us a lot of curves and it just works better if you lean into them and ride them out. Sooner or later the road unwinds a little and you can breath again.

I think Aunt Jenny probably knew even then that leaning into the curves is a metaphor for living life. She has had a lot of curves to lean into over the years. She has ridden them out well. With grace and dignity. She taught her children to do the same. She still rides the curves with grace and dignity and so do her children.  There is a gentleness about her in her golden years that reminds me of my grandmother. And those who know me well, know that to equate anybody with grandma is the utmost in status.

I saw a picture of Aunt Jenny on Facebook recently that one of her family had posted. It touched a chord deep inside of me. It was taken during a time when Aunt Jenny was riding out a curve in her life. In the picture she is hugging her son, Jeff, and she has such a sweet expression on her face. You can tell she is holding onto him for dear life as if pouring all her love into him. That’s just the kind of woman she is. That picture, for me, tells the story of Aunt Jenny. It shows her strength and her vulnerability. It shows her grace and her trust. It shows the heritage she is building for her children.

Honestly, it is the perfect picture of how God loves us. I just imagine him holding us for dear life, pouring all his love into us and letting us know that he is leaning with us in the curves.

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Thanks, Aunt Jenny. I love you.

Remembering in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

I Have Been With Family

You may have noticed that I wrote everyday in October and have only posted a few times in November.  In fact it has been 8 days since my last post.

I have been with family.  Which is very important to me.  On November 3rd I lost an Aunt.  And on November 16th I lost another aunt (barely two weeks apart). The one aunt had suffered with her health for several months and God saw fit to heal her by taking her home to be with him.  The other had been declining for a few years and had recently been taken to a nursing home.  She no longer knew the family.  So, God in his mercy, also saw fit to take her home where she too is now healed.

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I find the way we process grief interesting.  Some people process by celebrating the joy they had in the relationship with the one they have lost, others mourn their loss and cry.  Some find comfort in humor.  But almost everyone finds solace in the company of others.

Companionship is something we all need.  It is sad to me that we sometimes wait until we have lost someone close to us to realize that connection is vital. We somehow think that we have time.  But we don’t.  Life is short and people are too important to wait for the visits.

Growing up my cousins and I were together a lot.  We spent time in each other’s homes, we celebrated birthdays together. We played together.  Even when I started dating my now husband we still hung out with my cousins.  One of them and Rocky shared a birthday so we would get together to celebrate. We had many late night game nights.  We have a lot of wonderful memories.  I am thankful for those memories, but I am more thankful for the opportunities to connect with my family.

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After we were married, jobs took us away and over time we didn’t see my cousins as much.  Even though we still felt close to them, our time spent with them was limited by distance and busyness.  We moved back home in 2012 and had a few times of  celebration, but we weren’t together nearly enough.  Then, we lost my Aunt.  Connection became more important than ever.

The week she passed away we were with my cousins nearly every night.  They were at our house or we were at theirs.  Until midnight most nights.  It was good to share memories and just comfort one another.  It made me realize that life is too short to not spend time with family.

During the visitation and funeral for the one Aunt, we met (re-met) one of my cousins and two of his children. I had not seen them since the seventies; Rocky had never met them.  It was a great time reconnecting.  And again, I was reminded that family is more important than our busyness.  This past weekend, my other Aunt, their grandmother, passed away.  And we once again find ourselves getting ready to lay a loved one to rest.

The cycle of life goes on.  God in his mercy helps us part with dear loved ones.  Family gathers around to comfort one another and we connect and realize how important we are to each other.  And if we don’t forget this lesson, we’ll make sure we find time to meet for fellowship and break bread together just because we can.

Connecting in Grace,

Teresa (Sadie Grace)