Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Life in the midst of death

Last Wednesday, YS left a message for me in my voicemail saying that Ma had been taken to the hospital. The Nursing home (We'll call it "Pastures") had called Sis earlier and said that Ma was having high blood sugars, a weird heart rate, was pale, lethargic, and otherwise not doing well. So, Ma was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis and pneumonia.

These two things are the leading causes of death for people with dementia. Therefore, my siblings and I were concerned for our mother's health, although we have been for some time. Her dementia has caused her further cognitive decline to the point that I no longer have to wonder if she knows me because I know that she does not.

I went to Illinois to see Ma over the weekend. It was a long and exhausting trip, but I'm glad I went. My siblings said that she was singing in her sleep. They didn't know the tunes, but were thinking that they were hymns. When I visited Ma, she was sleeping most of the time. She was not singing for me, so I sang to her. At one point while I was singing, "Seek Ye First the Kingdome of God," she folded her hands as if in prayer. She could not say any prayers with me, nor did she sing with me. But, her brother and sister in law went to see her the next day and said she was singing in her sleep while they were there.

I don't say this flippantly, but instead, in awe. Mom was always a singer. She sang at funerals, weddings, community events/dedications, in multi-community karaoke contests, and in church. She sang at home, in the car, and while working in the yard. One of the hardest parts of seeing her mental decline was the fact that she stopped singing. Imagine our surprise when we heard (or heard of) her singing in the midst of such a serious illness.

I'm grateful that somewhere deep inside her blocked and deteriorating brain; in her personality and character, lay her love of music. I'm grateful that the gifts of God in her life continue to make themselves evident, especially as my brother mentioned he thought he heard her sing, "Alleluia, Praise the Lord" at one point. Singing was a way she could reflect the goodness of God in her life. The fact that music has returned to her reminds me of Romans 8:26 where we hear that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. The Holy Spirit, I believe resides in her and gives her the strength and ability to sing in the life she has left. Even if it goes away again, this time of regained music has been a gift.

Anyway, I appreciate the prayers of those who choose to pray for Mom, my family, and me. Thank you for listening.

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