A few weeks ago, the pastor at my home church, (whom I shall call Pastor S.) emailed and asked me if I would be the Assisting Minister on Easter morning. Since he accepted a new call in a land far, far, away, Easter was planned to be his last Sunday at our church. I was pleased to have been asked, and so I said yes.
A little while after that, I emailed him to talk about figuring out my role in the service. He emailed back and it came to pass that we decided to get together on the Saturday before Easter, go visit Ma, have me look through some books he didn't want to take with him to his new call, and talk about our different roles in the liturgy.
Saturday rolled around and I met Pastor S. at the church. We headed on over to the Supermax to see Ma. When we got there, I pushed all the codes to get us into the unit, and then led Pastor S. to her room (he has been there before, but maybe hasn't been to her room. I don't know). We walked toward her room, and she was on her roommate's side, looking at something. She seemed happy to see Pastor S. but kind of ambivalent about seeing me. I don't know.
We sat down and talked for a little while. Pastor S. tried to get her to talk about different things, but she really wasn't making much sense. I have talked before about how she is losing her ability to string together verbs, adjectives, and nouns to make coherent sentences. I don't know if perhaps I didn't hear her, but it sounded like she made up words a couple of times, too. But, she was still smiling and talkative, so that was good.
After a while, Pastor S. said that he wanted to tell Ma a story. So, he started reading the Easter Gospel lesson. Pastor S. read it very slow at the beginning, and after each sentence, Ma would say, "Okay. Mm-hmm." She was being an "attentive listener." Pastor then talked with Mom about things that make her worried, scared, or troubled, as a sort of "sermon," considering the Easter text dealt with the fear the women had that first Easter morning.
Then, Pastor S. got out communion supplies, did the Words of Institution, and said, "Let's pray the Lord's Prayer."
We bowed our heads and started praying. And then, much to my surprise, Ma prayed, too. I heard her saying the actual words, and I stopped praying, and kind of looked at her, and couldn't start praying again because I was about to start bawling. So, I looked at the ceiling to keep from crying, and I listened to my mom, who rarely says anything that makes much sense, recite the entire Lord's Prayer. Then, Ma, Pastor S., and I all took communion together. This activity makes me appreciate all the more the idea of the "communion of saints," because it unites Christians from every time and place together in our common bond with Christ Jesus. I haven't communed with my mom in almost two years, and it was nice to do so again.
After communion, Pastor S. said to Ma, "I'm not going to be coming here anymore, Ma'sName. Someone new is going to come because I'm moving to Wisconsin." Ma's reply was a chipper, "Okay!" I'm glad that she's not saddened by it because I think I'm sad enough for the both of us.
A little while later, Pastor S. and I decided it was time to go. Ma had referred to me in the third person earlier in the visit, and so I'm not 100% sure she knew it was me there visiting along with Pastor S. We all stood up, and I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her. Pastor S. gave her a hug goodbye, as well, when all of a sudden, she turned to him and said, "Pastor, how are your two boys?" We both looked at her, and Pastor S. mentioned a little about what they're doing now, and then we walked quickly out of her room. I turned back and saw that she had already distracted herself with something. I pushed the keys to get out, and we walked down the hall. Pastor S. said, "That's the first time since she's been in here that she said the entire Lord's Prayer. I was a bit amazed, myself. It's odd what sticks and what doesn't stick, eh?
That was the end of our visit with my mom. I'm grateful that I got to be present when he said goodbye to her; to hear her say the Lord's Prayer; and to commune with her for what I suspect might be the last time. The visit was a good, if not sad, one, but I'm grateful for glimpses into who she "used" to be. I love Ma. I miss her a lot, too, though. And yet I remember, always remember, that she is loved.