Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
This is a touching story that I pray would touch each and every one that reads it. May our hearts be touched and our minds transformed.
"Look at grandpa!" Laughed Molly, "He put his pants on backwards! And I think they are wet too!"
"Shhh!" Said mother quietly as she gently pulled her twelve year old daughter aside.
"Why does grandpa do funny things sometimes, mom?" Asked Molly.
Mother let out a sigh, wiped her hands off on her apron, and knelt beside her youngest child. "Molly dear, I know you don't fully understand what Alzheimer's disease is, but it's something that older people occasionally get, and it sometimes causes them to be a little confused. That's why grandpa came to live with us; because he was sometimes forgetting to turn the stove off, and to take his medicine."
Just as Molly was about to respond, there came a big chuckle from the corner of the room. Molly's eldest brother, Freddie, who was a bit of a smart-aleck, had been hiding by the china cabinet and taking in the whole conversation.
"What mom's trying to tell you, Molly," quipped Freddie, "is that grandpa is nuts, so don't pay him no attention!"
Although mother was angry at Freddie's rude comment, more than anything, she was saddened. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she sternly said, "Freddie, that is my FATHER, and I will not have you talk to or about him in such a disrespectful or belittling way. Sometimes grandpa might not be fully aware of what he is doing or saying, but more often than not, he DOES know, and gets upset that he is having a hard time doing the things that used to come easy to him. Just because he has some dementia does not mean he no longer has feelings!"
Freddie's head now hung low. It was obvious he regretted his thoughtless remark.
Mother dabbed her eye with a tissue and continued, "Freddie, I want you to go to your room, and talk to God about this."
Without so much as a word, Freddie shuffled away, his little sister following.
Later in the afternoon, both Molly and Freddie walked down the stairs in to the kitchen where mother stood over the sink washing dishes. In his hand was a piece of paper.
"I prayed over the matter, mom, and I believe God showed me what I need to do," he said matter-of-factly.
"Oh?" Said mother, "And what's that? Say sorry?"
"Well, that, yes, but more importantly, I believe God wants me to share this Alzheimer's prayer Molly and I wrote with other families too," Freddie continued as he fumbled with the piece of paper in his hand.
Mother turned around, wiped her hands on her apron, smiled, and replied, "Can I hear what you wrote?"
Freddie cleared his throat, straitened his posture, and read:
An Alzheimer's Prayer
Dear God, please help my family, friends and care-givers see me for who I always was, and not for what this disease has taken from me.
Help them to see that I want to be treated just like they do; with courtesy, respect and sensitivity.
Remind them, God, that although I may sometimes get confused, even act irrationally, these things can scare, frustrate and sadden me as much as it does them.
I don't want to be treated like a misbehaving child. Let them know that the best thing they can do during these times is to take my hand lovingly and hold it or give me a warm hug, for shows of love are universally understood.
Help my visitors to understand how grateful and appreciative I am when they come and spend time with me. I don't need presents, just the precious gift of love. And just because I may forget their name doesn't mean the love I have for them in my heart has changed. I feel it, and am comforted and warmed when I hear their voice, see their smile, or feel their loving embrace.
Let them know, God, that I don't like this predicament any more than they do, and that even though my needs are now different, I still want to be included in their lives because, if I lose my family and those dearest to me, then so too will go my will to go on.
I can deal with this disease because I have to, but I just need them to be a little more patient with me; a little more kind.
Lastly, help them, God, so we can get through this together. (copyright (c) Melanie Schurr 2007)
As he finished, Freddie looked up, only to find mother sobbing; no longer tears of sadness, but joy and pride!
"Oh Freddie! Molly! That is beautiful, and it is a message that I hope everyone who has a loved one touched by dementia will hear!" Exclaimed mother as tears flowed uncontrollably down her cheeks.
Christ has told us to love one another, and treat each other as we would wish to be treated. As such, let us place His message into our hearts, and carry it out in to the world. His love will not only make a difference in how we view and relate to Alzheimer's patients, but also has the ability to transform lives, and soften even the most hardened hearts.
Dear Lord, we pray that our hearts would be tender for those around us. Especially for those who are suffering with health issues. Help us show your love through our words and actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.