Saturday, October 11, 2008

When Worlds Collide

My mother has been staying with us for many days. First, she was with my sister at her home and then with me at my home. Now, I am at my mother’s house, and we are trying to get her set up for the coming days. Several times, my mother has asked me questions she knew the answers to. Several times, she thought someone else had done something I had done, and visa versa. It has made me sad to watch her lose her sharpness and her control over her world. For so long, she has been a tower of strength and clarity in a very fluid and confusing world. And now the world around her often overwhelms her. We try to do as much for her as we can, but also recognize that she still needs to be in charge of her life as much as possible. Personal dignity and making her own decisions is very, very important to my mom and I want to honor that.

So, I help when I can, sit on the sidelines and watch when she needs me to, and try to navigate a reasonable orbit around her – one close enough to reassure, far away enough not to smother. She is not my child although this situation elicits parental responses from me. She is my mother and doesn’t take direction well, even when it’s offered. So we dance, carefully dance and hope that God gives her fullness of days without complete diminished capacity. But some days, I wonder how the designer made us with this enormous capacity for love and expression, to watch it flourish and then fade. I can only think of Dylan Thomas in days like these, “do not go gently into that good night.”

Today, I ask for God’s strength (because mine has grown weak) to carry on and to care for my mother with respect and dignity. I ask that God would show me step by step how to make these colliding worlds a blessing for us both. I ask the Creator to make a colorful dance out of our awkward stumbling today. May we all remember that we are on the same road together and that as we have learned to walk, so we shall learn to fall. May we cling to each other today, knowing the experience will be a good one if we walk and dance together. Then no one has to fall alone.

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