These poignant words deeply connected with breaking bread and sharing wine, have special meaning for me this month. So too, did the ANZAC day gathering when we focused upon ‘Lest we forget. Especially today on Mother’s Day.
A couple of weeks ago the nursing home in which my 93 yr old mother-in-law has lived for the last 9 years informed us that they were closing down. She could be relocated to a new home in Hawthorn if we agreed to some terms – which we did. Not much choice really.
My mother-in-law has very poor vision, so she doesn’t read anymore or watch tv, and although she has hearing aids, hears virtually nothing. Even conversations are quite difficult.
She is quite frail. She is my wife’s mother, but I have always called her mum. She has always treated me like a son.
Mum was quite anxious about moving. Her little room in Tanderra was comfortable and she knew exactly where everything was. She relied heavily on her memory of her surroundings, it made her feel safe. In the past few months, her memory of family and events was starting to show significant signs of deteriorating. We visit often but it was taking a bit longer each time for her to register who we were.
Three weeks ago we moved mum to Hawthorn. The facilities are excellent and very modern but very unfamiliar to her. We increased our visits just to make sure she was settling in ok. Last week she had a fall. Nothing broken, but when I visited the next day, it was like she was in shock. Expressionless and vacant. We went to see her again this Tuesday. She remembered Julia after a little while, but she had no idea who I was. At one stage she said to Julia, “who is that man, is he the nurse”?
I’d been anticipating it for a while now, so I was almost ready for it, but it still saddened me deeply. We’d been through it previously with my father-in-law. During the course of ministry, I’ve spent time with individuals and families going through this same circumstance; powerless to arrest this subtle but profound experience of watching someone you love disappear in every sense except physically.
Memory is such an important part of being human. Who are we without memories? In some ways, we are our memories; our memories make us who we are. Who are we without them?
The cherishing of some memories and the integration of others is a major part of the work of being human. At the end of the day, it’s part of the whole mystery of existence but for those who look at life through the lenses of faith, we can hold onto the idea that although someone’s memory of G-d might fade, God’s memory of us does not.
Because it’s Mother’s Day – let’s cherish the memories.