She who suffers Alzheimer's is still there.
Friends, please don’t divorce me.
Please don’t pull a Pat Robertson.
It is reported that Pat Robertson recently pronounced it acceptable for a man to divorce his wife who has Alzheimer’s on the grounds that she isn’t there anymore. What an incredibly selfish and self-centered idea. How foolish, and I mean that in the biblical sense. While the ability to communicate is gone, that wife, that person, that human being, is still there. And God sees. God sees.
I care for my mom who has Alzheimer’s. She still walks and talks, but her mind is out in left field most of the time. She depends on me to run her life, even though this grates on her during the rare, fleeting moments she becomes aware of it. My call is to attend to her needs to the best of my ability, however imperfect. We depend on God to sustain us in these circumstances. Eventually, my mom’s walking and talking days will be over, but she will not be gone. It is not my mom who will be gone, but only my accustomed experience of her. I choose to move on with her to a new experience. ”‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).
As some of you know, I have MCI, that is, Mild Cognitive Impairment. My day-to-day memory is not always up to par and I forget things like appointments, tasks, and things out of the ordinary. Sometimes I sense it, like when I can’t recall what day it is and I feel like there’s a haze in my brain that I can’t clear. Short-term memories are occasionally vague enough that I can’t always tell whether I did it or dreamed it. MCI, in many cases, progresses to Alzheimer’s, but not always. Because my mom has Alzheimer’s, the risk is far greater for me. I don’t often worry about it, however, because I know whom I have believed and my times are in His hands. As Hagar experienced, He is “The God Who Sees” (Genesis 16:13).
But I’d like to say this, just in case:
Friends, stand by me. Don’t divorce me.
Should the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease strike me down, stay by me. Love me, visit me, talk to me. If I am irritable and frustrated, forgive me and exercise patience. Should I live long enough that I no longer hear with my ears or process words with my brain, still my spirit shall hear and know you are there. Touch me, hug me. Rub my shoulders, smooth my back. If I am ever sick with Alzheimer’s, visit me. Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Jesus. Jesus tell us this in Matthew 25:31-40:
”When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”