When did Jesus get so old? He fixes his watery blue eyes on mine, hoping for conversation as I lean him forward off a bank of pillows. He smiles and the wrinkles in his face tell the story of “us.”
“I lost my iPad,” he reminds me.
Blankets have swallowed it again. I follow a trail of used Kleenex and find it. The iPad is his link to the outside world. His many Facebook friends hold his hand when he feels alone. His mind flickers bright like an oil lamp when he reads about politics or world events.
Right now he needs to use the toilet again. Stewed prunes always do the trick and I make sure he doesn’t forget to eat at least three every day. Last month he could throw his legs over the side of the bed and sit up by himself. But now he labors and rests, labors and rests.
Jesus fell three weeks ago. Before his fall he could travel from window to window in the house squinting at noisy great-grandchildren, trees and dogs outdoors.
He followed my schedule back then, and shuffled back and forth in our living room without his walker, holding my arm for balance. With three hearty meals a day he maintained a level of vigor—until this fall.
He was on his way to the bathroom and tripped, or his stumps (as he calls them) gave out. He upended his walker and bruised his toes black and blue. He sprained his arm—the left one this time. Last year he fell on his right arm, and we worked it back to full strength, or nearly so. Now we’re in a round of physical therapy again.
From his bed he stares at his walker like it’s a rowboat anchored far out in a lake. I bring it closer and he grasps it. I’m determined to bring his limbs back to utility like we have the last few times he has fallen.
“Stand up straight, Mom. I’m letting go of the walker. Now get your balance. Good!”
Yes, this is my Mom, but I see Jesus. He is the one lying in bed all day propped with a neck pillow. He shakes the irritating bell. He asks for three different kinds of veggies and chopped egg in separate bowls.
Mom has weathered a lot of hard knocks in her life: A daughter stolen away to be raised by others; bitter relatives; money problems. Probably other things that I’ll never know about.
But that’s all behind her now. New challenges loom—like standing upright—and it’s as if he is scaling a mountain three times a day.
Jesus can’t eat nuts or steak anymore. Sometimes he wants to discuss what he reads, or hold someone’s hand, but his room is empty. Time to ring the bell. Where did he put it…?
I remember Mom the way she was in 1969. I was 14 when she drove our green Chevy truck and camper along the Oregon coast. Dad had just deserted my sister, Mom and me. We took a road trip to forget our troubles—until we ran out of gas and food money.
Then Jesus had to learn to balance a checkbook and find a job.
Mom will be 92 next January. By January I hope to have her walking and holding my arm again in the living room. She is well on her way to regaining mobility.
I chafe sometimes at having to reorganize my whole life to care for my mother in her golden years. But in a beyond-natural way, Mom and Jesus have become one and the same person in my daily walk with God.
This way of looking at life keeps me grounded (and mostly sane) as we share our season of walkers and bed pads. And Jesus often reminds me, as we talk over our futures in heaven—no hard winter lasts forever.
I John 3:18
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
I John 3:16
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
I Timothy 5:8
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.