Collected Tears

 

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Journal: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Today was a day of crying and praying and missing my Mom. Of all the people in the world that I can talk to and tell anything, she was always the one I could be the freest with. The one I could count on to comfort me and pray for me; to love me and forgive me when needed. So today was just a day that I really wish I could talk to her. Some days I miss her so much. I need her love, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and care. I know there will always be days like today and it won’t be easy but I know God can be my comfort. I can go to him.  I can take him my heart; I can ask for strength.  He is faithful.  He loves me even more than my mother.

I miss my Ladybug and our late night talks; our inside jokes and laughter; our trips to the Dairy Queen when we’d sneak off without telling the guys; The drives we took in the country when we were restless. I miss all of it. I love her so much. 

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.                                                               Psalm 56:8 NLT

One of the things I miss the most is talking to my Mom.  Before the Alzheimer’s took so much away from her we would talk constantly. I’d call her or she’d call me and we’d talk about everything and nothing in particular.

Even after the Alzheimer’s I’d call home, Dad would answer the phone but I’d always ask to talk to Mom.  Sometimes she’d talk a while, other times she’d have trouble with the phone. Eventually, she pretty much gave up talking on the phone.

I missed our talks even while she was still living.  There were times I’d tell her things knowing that she didn’t fully comprehend, or remember later, but at the moment she’d try to let me know all would be well.

A few months before she died we had a wonderful conversation about forgiveness.  I’d recently been short with her.  I told her that I was wrong and hadn’t treated her as kindly as I should have.  We talked about forgiveness in general and what it means and I asked her if she would forgive me.  She ever so sweetly said yes she would.  Even though she probably didn’t remember the incident in question and probably didn’t remember our conversation later, at that moment she understood my need to ask forgiveness and she sincerely, without question granted it. Much like she had several years earlier when I had needed to ask for forgiveness. (you can read about that time here)

Growing up, forgiveness always flowed freely. If Mom and I had had a particularly trying day as can sometimes happen, she always made sure before bed that all was well between us.  We would talk things out and I always knew she was there for me.  Even as a small child I remember kneeling beside her to pray about whatever was troubling me. Being the melancholy child that I was it seemed I was always needing to pray or talk about something.

That did not change as a teenager.  We had lots of adventures together.  I remember one summer or two that she spent a lot of time driving me around the countryside chasing a dream of a piano player (not Rocky, that came later) that I thought I was in love with. I also remember having many late night conversations about boys, dreams, life.  It was nothing to stay up until the crack of dawn talking. Even after I had married and moved away from home, we always had at least one all-night talk session when I’d come for visits.  Rocky and Dad would come downstairs of a morning and there we’d be still sitting on the couch.

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One of our adventures at a camp meeting in the mountains of Eastern KY during one of those summers chasing a piano player. The photo bomber also had a daughter, probably chasing the same piano player.

Later, when Rocky came on the scene I wrote her a letter telling her that I was in love and I knew he was the one.  I was in college and cell phones and Facebook didn’t exist, so you either made a long distance call or wrote a letter.  I found that letter last year when going through some of her things. She had kept it all these years. I know my Mama’s level of sentimentality and I know she hung onto that letter to mark a significant time in my life that she rejoiced in with me.

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Rocky and me the early years. Mom always said she couldn’t love him more if he was her son. The minute he came on the scene, he was family and she never let me forget that. She was always on his side. Sigh. I’m glad she loved him that fiercely.

I’ve always shared my everyday life with her.  Each new adventure, each crisis, everyday moments. It was all chronicled with her. And she never failed to cheer me on or commiserate when necessary.  Every new move she was there helping and planning with me even when it took me too far from home.  She never tried to hold me back, but always rejoiced at each new opportunity.

She did tell me, as she grew older, that she missed her daughters and wished they could both move back home. She once offered to give my sister her house if she’d move back home. And my mom really loved her house. She is now buried on the hill facing her house. When Rocky and I moved to Louisville in 2007 she was glad we were closer. She and Dad would come to visit and we would go see them when we could.

In 2010 when we went in with Dad to purchase the house next door to them she was excited for us to fix up the house and be there on breaks, but before we could spend much time there the Alzheimer’s was fast approaching. When we moved there in the summer of 2012 between the seminary and whatever was to come next, it was clear that Alzheimer’s had set in and we were needed.  I know it was a God thing that we had decided to buy the house two years prior when it didn’t really make sense to do so. We had no long-term plans of settling back home once schooling was finished, but home was exactly where we needed to be.

Living there was as it should be.  Mom was restless a lot and had lots of questions about everything in the early days.  She would come to my house for reassurance or sometimes just to chat a moment.  The door was always open for her and sometimes she’d be back and forth several times a day.  We’d have the same conversations, mostly with her trying to make sense of the muddle in her mind.  Memoires were hiding and bits and pieces would show up and she’d need me to help her make sense of it all.  She trusted me and I did all I could to honor that trust.

Even in the difficulty of living with Alzheimer’s, we had some good times and lots of laughter.  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.  But sometimes I’d miss our old conversations.  The last couple of months before she passed away there were several times I’d think I need to call Mom only to immediately remember that things were different.  I went through a spell in the summer of nesting and tweaking my living room, buying lamps and finally hanging pictures.  All the things I would have discussed with Mom.  So, I called my Dad and shared with him.  I suppose I could have told mom, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same and I also knew that she might not even engage at all on the phone.  I wish I’d tried anyway.

Since her passing, I have had several times where I wish I could talk to her or something will happen and my first thought is to call Mom.  I’ve needed so much to hear her words of wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. I’ve needed to laugh with her. There are times that you just need your mother because no one understands you like she does. In those times I remind myself that God can comfort me and that he truly understands.

I cling to all the hope, dry my eyes, and do my best to live life without my Ladybug.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~~ Washington Irving

Another song for you to listen to, For Those Tears I Died

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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My mom, the cheerleader (8th grade, Mt. Carmel) standing by the fence in front of their church turned house where they lived in Beechburg, KY.
This home is now a garage and
my best friend recently purchased the property.
My Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader.

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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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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Weekend Blessing

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 KJV

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Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

I remember a song from my childhood youth group based on Isaiah 40:31, Teach Me, Lord.  It was one of the songs that I sang to Mom.  It was one of her favorite scriptures.  I watched her live out this scripture.  She was a doer, but in living life, she learned to wait on the Lord.  She had tremendous faith in his provision for everything including strength for the weary.  She was a prayer warrior and knowing she was praying for me was a great encouragement because I knew her prayers were accompanied by an unrelenting faith that God would answer in his time.

I witnessed her faith in praying for healing, salvation, safety and many other things on behalf of her children as well as others.  She had an expectation that God would hear and that he would provide. Even as the Alzheimers ravaged her, she still clung to her faith.  She would sometimes tell me she wanted to see Jesus and now she has.

She prayed many prayers and even though she is now in heaven, I believe that her prayers are still relevant. God remembers her prayers and he knows which ones still need to be answered and they will be in his time.

My prayer for you is that you will wait upon the Lord for renewed strength; that he will raise you on Eagles wings and that you won’t become weary in doing life but trust in his timing for all things.

Grace and Strength for the journey,

Teresa

PS – I hope you don’t mind that I combined Saturday and Sunday this week.  I am a little weary this weekend and need some extra rest.  Looking forward to the day when I can walk and not faint.

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Mom at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit, Michigan on a trip she and Dad took. She thought it would be fun to “ride” the bike. She was always up for a little adventure.

 

Come back Monday 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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Write 31 Days – A Journey Through Grief

There is a table of contents at the bottom of this post for the #write31days challenge.

For the month of October, there will be a group of bloggers writing feverishly for the whole month (most days) and sharing thoughts with you on multiple topics.  It is called Write 31 Days.

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I’ve decided to take you on my journey of processing grief after losing my mother on August 13 of this year.  The grief is still raw and I don’t know how this journey will progress.  Some of the things I share with you will be notes and thoughts I kept on an app on my phone so that I could capture my thoughts about losing her while they were fresh. Those will be shared with minimal editing so that you can have a sense of my thought process.  Others will be current real-time thoughts as they happen to come along from day to day. There will also be memories because I am finding that the memories are an important step in navigating grief. I will also share scriptures that I find helpful in my journey. It won’t be strictly chronological but I think you’ll be able to follow my wandering.

One important thing to know.  I’m not sharing this to be sentimental or emotional, although there will be elements of that I’m sure.  I’m not sharing because I want people to constantly tell me how sorry they are.  I assume if you are a decent person, then on some level, you are sorry that I have lost someone I love. Many people have been more than kind with prayers, cards, and thoughts.   But rather I am sharing because writing is the only way I know to get my thoughts out of my head so that I can understand how I’m moving forward.  Since this is a journey I need to take I thought maybe you’d allow me to share it with you and maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

If you want to engage in conversation in the comments you are more than welcome to do so.  I’d love to hear how you process grief.  And, just as a final thought, I don’t consider grief to be all tears and downturned faces.  There are also moments of laughter, hope, and joy that my sweet Mama is now in the arms of Jesus. Hopefully, you will see elements of all that in the writing.

My hope is that it will speak to you and that someday hence it will not become a regret that I shared too much or allowed you to see the raw, tender places in the depths of my heart.

This post is day one and each day I will share a link below to the newest post.  Each daily post will give you a date or an approximate date that it was written just so you have somewhat of a timeline.

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I have more stories and memories to share on the blog so I hope you continue to check back. Thanks for reading!

Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

Why You Will Want to Read All The Pretty Things

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Edie Rudder Wadsworth writes words that burn deep into your soul. Her book, All The Pretty Things launches today. It needs to be on your must read list.

Here’s Why:

  1.  You will Love the chapter titles
  2.  You will experience all the emotions
  3.  You will see grace in action
  4.  You will find redemption
  5.  You will not be able to put the book down
  6.  You will recognize yourself
  7.  You will find hope
  8.  You will cry and sometimes laugh
  9.  You will forget to breathe, finally letting out a sigh of relief
  10.   You will be changed

It’s the story of a young girl’s journey into womanhood and how through everything  love, grace, forgiveness and redemption were the threads that held it all together resulting in a beautiful tapestry only God could weave.

It’s the first book in a long time that I couldn’t put down until every last word was savored. Edie’s voice draws you in and compels you to stay.  You will come away with your heart full and a new resolve to embrace your life and live it with grace.

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Reading in grace,

Teresa

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A Firm Hand And Tender Mercies

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A few years ago I wrote a list of things I had learned from several influential women in my life and shared it here.  For each of these women, I chose a list of ten things that they had taught me.  One of those women, was, of course, my mother.  Needless to say, she taught me much more than just those ten things.  I was fortunate to have a mother who instilled Christian values in me as well as giving me a great love of daydreaming and using my imagination.  She loved me with a firm hand and tender mercies.

Our relationship was riddled with the usual upsets and imperfections and occasional sass, but I always knew she was a safe place to rest my weary head and unpack my troubled soul.  I remember her praying with me on many occasions. One such occasion was when I accepted Jesus at age ten.  She and my father knelt with me by my bedside.  I remember pouring my heart out in tears as they prayed with me.

I also remember many a late night talk fest where she nurtured my dreams and plans or listened to me wax eloquent about the latest love of my life.  I had quite a few crushes and she always listened with sincerity when I thought I was in love.She was even on board with helping me chase a certain family gospel group around because at 16  I was sure I was gonna marry their son. When I was 17 he married another young girl and broke my heart for about five minutes.  We no longer had to travel all over the countryside to chase a guy, but that didn’t stop our late night talks about anything and everything. She was my biggest cheerleader.

A lot of people have gravitated towards my mom over the years needing her to be their cheerleader.  She is a good listener and a natural born caregiver.  She genuinely loves people and prior to the Alzheimer’s was always taking someone under her wing. It was nothing for her to bring someone into our home and nurse them back to health, or if they weren’t going to get well to bring them comfort in their final days.

I’m sure my mom has never taken a spiritual gifts survey, but I’m also sure that one of her gifts is mercy.  She has always been at her best when helping others.  She used to tell me that when I was old she’d take care of me.  And were it not for the Alzheimer’s I know full well that she would be the first one by my side on the days that the MCTD wears me down. Even so, there are days she looks at me with such tender compassion when she realizes that I’m tired or not feeling well and she talks to me about Jesus.

It has only been over the past few years that I have truly begun to grasp the truth in number seven on her list: helping others is a way to help ourselves.  As I have become her caregiver, and especially, as I see each day how much help she needs with everything it has been a humbling experience.  Caregiving does not come naturally to me.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have the gift of mercy.  I love people; I have compassion for people; I do not want to take care of people. But, I take care of my mom because I love her and because she needs me.

I take care of my mom because she showed me how it’s done. She truly understands what it means to serve others. She understands that sometimes you sacrifice your plans to meet their needs.  And, while it’s still a learning curve I’m beginning to see clearly how helping her is helping me.  It’s helping me be a little less selfish as I put another’s needs ahead of my own; it’s helping me trust that God’s plans really are better than my plans as I reevaluate my dreams; it’s helping me learn to live in the present and savor simple moments as I embrace slow living; it’s helping me accept that there are things I cannot change as I trust God’s provision.  I’m learning to live God’s way, submitting to his firm hand and tender mercies.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

What have you learned from your mother?  I invite you to share her wisdom in the comments!

Thankful for tender mercies and grace,

Teresa

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what mama said

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