Friday, August 27, 2010

I am Thankful for Thelma’s 94th Birthday Party

Cheryl and I drove over to Fountain Inn, South Carolina for her mother’s 94th birthday celebration. [See Family Johns for photos.] It was a long but good day. When we first arrived there was a long meeting with the care team at the nursing home reviewing Thelma’s current status and recent history. In general she is doing well but she had a “step-down" episode last week, probably another mild stroke.

She has regained her strength, was alert, upright, and looked good. However, there was a noticeable decline in her mental acuity. She was non-conversant and more engaged with things than with people. On the other hand, she seemed more relaxed and happy than I have ever seen her. There was a smile on her face most of the time and when I could get her attention there was good eye contact and a real sense of connection.

She never used my name or Cheryl’s, although she did introduce Cheryl to a staff person as her daughter. I spent a lot of time close to her trying to communicate; I got a lot of smiles and a couple of chuckles. Once she reached over and took my chin in her hand and said, “We’re getting older, but we’re getting wiser.” She repeated, “Your getting wiser.” I’ll take it.

Later on she took my face in both of her hands, looked deep into my eyes, and smiled. It was the most tender expression I have ever seen from her with anyone. I’m not certain what was going on during these exchanges or even if she knew who I was. It was very good to see her serene and reaching out to another human with gentleness.

She said one other cogent thing to me. With an intense look into my eyes she stated, “I’m angry with God.” I asked what she was angry about and she responded, “He can’t make up His mind.” I probed but got no further explanation. I wondered if she was referring to her health and coming demise.

I think the day was stressful for Cheryl: the family conference, challenges with Medicare and her mother’s bill, etc. It was also difficult for Cheryl and her sisters to realize they were slipping out of their mother’s consciousness, although no one stated it that way. I believe the long good-by has settled heavy upon the family.

I am thankful Thelma is receiving good care and is in a pleasant environment. I am pleased Cheryl’s sisters are in harmony with her about their mother’s care. I am thankful for a pleasant time together. It is always encouraging to talk with Josh about his ministry and passion for the work of God.

It was a long, but a good day.

Cleveland, Tennessee
August 27, 2010

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