Sunday, October 29, 2006

HOME FOR GOOD!...I hope. I arrived home on an earlier flight than originally planned Friday. We had a good week. Each day was filled with feeding my mom her meals, getting her back to her room for her naps (that tend to be longer) and going to Carl's apartment to sort through things or do things for him. Of course, the time ran out on us, but we got quite a bit done. there are some boxes still waiting for us, but they are very few. More "stuff" was picked up and taken to the resale shop to be disposed of. One of my sisters got some clothing for Carl that fit him comfotably and keep him warmer. We set some plans in motion that will hopefully make his situation better.
I've now had this in draft form for awhile and it is now 11/16 and i'm not done with it! Last weekend, we found out that Carl had worked around some of our plans to help him and sabotaged them. I'm glad I've had experience raising children because this is so much like that time. (only much worse! We have no authority over him.) You get to a point where you can't do anything to change the situation. (Technically, he isn't at the stage where he is incompetent. His judgement is just not very good.) We have done what we can do to help but there is a limit to what we can do to protect him from himself! We were fortunate in our child raising that we did not have problems this severe to deal with.
I will close this down for now since it is as complete as it can get. Last weekend, I was pretty distressed. I'm doing better today:) martha

12/1/06 another addendum! I just added the photo with my siblings. We are from left to right: me, my "baby" brother (3 yrs. younger), an american airlines captain who lives with his wife in PA. Next is my truly baby sister who is 20 yrs. younger and lives in amsterdam. She is a first grade teacher in an international school where she works with her husband. Last is my sister born on my first birthday. She is mother of 4, grandmother of 9 (one of her kids has 8 children!). She will work full-time as a nurse again starting in Jan. after teaching nursing in a nearby junior college this past year. Her most recent area of experience (for many years) has been with insurance companies as caseworker doing utilization review. She lives outside of Baltimore, MD.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

THE WANDERER IS OFF AGAIN...this time to Florida. My mom was recently put on hospice care in the nursing home she is in about an hour from Jacksonville, FL. That doesn't mean they expect her to die right away, but the signs of some of the systems of her body shutting down are there. Her mind is nearly gone already. She usually knows who we are, but carrying on a conversation with her like we once were able to is about impossible. In many ways, this designation is anticlimactic.

I cried when I visited a couple of Christmas seasons ago (2004?) and realized she would never be walking again, her memory was fading fast and the vibrant, alert mother I had known was rapidly disappearing. It was a difficult Christmas that year as we sat in the chapel of her retirement community after struggling up the stairs to hear their presentation of Messiah. As we settled in our seats--she in her wheelchair and I in my chair and I relaxed from the stress of trying to get her in the door (we were a few minutes late) I let the words and music pour over me. I remembered the many Christmases I had been with my daughters and husband either singing or listening to Messiah. The tears flowed and I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw that she was blank. She couldn't seem to figure out what was happening. There would be no more visits to catch up on people we had known over the years. She couldn't write anymore or keep up on her email or discuss books or ideas. It was all too confusing for her. The mother I knew was gone. Each visit since then, she disappears a little more.

That was also my first Christmas away from long time friends. I had lived in TX for 16 years--a long time for me. My husband had retired from that church and we were temporarily filling in for a church outside of Peoria, IL. There was little there that was familiar. No one there knew my family, my children, my mom or carl. I felt as lonely as one could feel. I guess that is what the spiritual Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child is talking about--a loneliness like no other. Your mother is the repository of family history, family memories (even though her perspective is different!) and so much more. My father had been dead since 1973...and his death was sudden. When we went home to visit, we saw my mother and caught up on all these people she wrote for years! Many of them I never met, just saw their pictures in college year books from King's College. Others had been friends from various mission fields or supporting friends. I hadn't known many of them well because I came to the U.S. for high school when my parents went overseas to Costa Rica when I was in ninth grade. I didn't speak enough spanish to be able to go to school in Spanish. Of course, my growing up years were difficult just as everyone else's. I did many things differently with my children...sometimes not as differently as I thought at the time.

Anyway, this really is a youngest sister born when I was almost 20, is coming to see my mom during a school break in Amsterdam. My other sister and I decided to join her and try to ease the pain of what may be her last visit with mom. I have no idea what to expect of this week. I do imagine that it will probably be an emotional week. I don't feel up to the challenge...AT ALL. Right now, I am beat in almost every way. My 91 yr. old stepfather has had some new problems recently so I have no idea what challenges will be put on us because of some of his needs. It will be quite a week. I need any prayer that is offered for me.

AND NOW FOR THE FINAL OF MY TRIO OF GRANDCHILDREN...SWEET CAROLINE...Here she is at the airport all ready to travel. I flew with her mom, her and her baby sister from Nashville to Seattle. They both did very well on the trip. Those DVD players are worth their weight in gold on a long flight when the boredom sets in from coloring, etc. Quinn slept quite a bit.
To explain Caroline's get-up, she had on her backpack and uses the front ties to hold her baby like her mom's bjorn. Her baby's name is "Bear". Sometimes she feeds Bear like mom feeds Quinn. I enclosed the photo when she was smiling. In the other photo she was making a face and sticking out her tongue! Caroline is almost 3 1/2 (going on 20). She is quite a character as you may be able to tell.

AND NOW IN THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY's a picture of Walker and his mom. Can you see that I'm sharing photos from our trip? I love this picture of Holly and Walker. It shows a mom delighting in her baby and a baby thrilled with his mom. I'm just glad we were able to capture it in a photo. Walker is a month younger than Quinn at about 4 months old. The two of them were so cute. The are both happy, smiley, fairly laid back as long as their needs are met, bald, and have big eyes. We were able to get a lot of wonderful photos to see often. It was a tough choice to pick only one, but here it is.

BABY QUINN ABIGAIL ON THE DAY SHE WAS BAPTIZED...I finally got the pictures from our trip downloaded. This is Quinn on October 1, 2006 in Seattle, WA. I have another photo of her with her grandfather who was able to baptize her at her family's home church but I could only choose one picture! Here she is at a little over 5 months old.
For those who aren't familiar with baptizing babies or who consider it an empty, unbiblical tradition, I'm not here to convert you.* I just want you to know that the Biblical aspect of it is tied to circumcision in the Old Testament where the infant was not old enough to make a decision re whether he wanted to be a part of the covenant family. His parents made the decision for him until he was old enough to turn away. Meanwhile, he had all the advantage of being part of that community (prayed for by them, taught by them, influenced by them, etc.) until he made his personal commitment at age 12 or 13. For Quinn, there is no set age, but at some point, she will receive Christ for herself (we pray).

Meanwhile, she is part of the covenant community/visible church until then. One of the vows made during the baptism is by the congregation that they will support this family and encourage them and pray for them, etc. That is one of the "why's" of Sunday School, prayer for the children of our church, youth ministry, etc. To build them up, teach them God's Word on a level they understand so they will understand what it means to be a christian and how it applies to their everyday life and at an early age, repent of their sin and receive cleansing from Christ.

This is an awesome responsibility for her parents and extended family. It is also an important responsibility for all of the members of the church as we seek to encourage our children who grow up in the church whether it is through direct, formal ministry to them or indirectly as we model the christian life before them and encourage them personally in their walk of faith.
Welcome Quinn to our family and welcome to your covenant family as well.

*(I really meant it when I said I'm not trying to convince you. I do have Biblical texts for this, but am not including them here since that is not the purpose of my blog at this time.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

MANY OF MY GOOD FRIENDS ARE GOING THROUGH VERY STRESSFUL TIMES RIGHT makes me feel like some of my stress is pretty minor. Here's an example: one friend has been having lumps to be biopsied in various places this year and had more found in her thyroid last week. The good news came today that they weren't malignant...yet. They will probably need to come out. She has been dealing with one thing after another lately and with more grace as time goes on. The circumstances don't get any easier, but she seems to be able to manage with more calm with the grace that only God can supply.
Another friend has a husband who had bypass surgery a month or two ago with re-hospitalizations afterward due to irregular heartbeats. It looked like that was getting under control when he developed a new one last weekend. She keeps getting bad news re his condition that they try to put as positively as they can. She doesn't know how to deal with what they tell her and is having to lean heavily on the Lord as she literally waits for Him. I have learned a lot from her over the years as I have watched her wait on God. He always meets the need she has and has proved Himself sufficient. She has habitually remained calm in the middle of some pretty major storms. (They are now home and getting some sleep.)
A new friend has been suffering this week in the wake of difficult and sad events happening in her church. She is using this time to learn more about how to be a peacemaking woman (also the title of a book) in the middle of circumstances that are not peaceful. She has also offered hospitality to two of us going to a seminar this weekend which I know has been costly to her (at least in time and effort when she is stretched).
Another friend is worried about her college aged daughter who has started dating a really nice young man...who is not a christian. Her worry has been channeled into prayer for her daughter and the young man, and some very straight conversations re this situation. Already she is seeing signs of God working, but they are still dating.
So my mental prayer list has been on overload as these and others have come to mind during the day. My mother is not doing well in the nursing home. She loses more and more of her contact with reality. Now she is physically going downhill. Her birthday this week (84) is likely to be her last.
We had a dangerous episode with my stepfather over the weeked which probably will not encourage him in the direction of getting more care, but should. I have vowed not to live this far from my children when i am in this situation. (If I am this unfortunate.) My sister and I plan to get to Florida the end of this month to visit mom and give my youngest sister (20 years younger) some moral support when she comes over from Amsterdam. So my traveling isn't as over as I had thought! Neither are my days of leaning on the Lord in times of inadequacy.