On Friday, May 6, 2011 my mother was released from prison…the prison of Alzheimer’s. This disease robbed my mother of her memory of loved ones, including my dad, my brother and me. But God in His wonderful mercy kept her safe and somewhat relational during the illness. It was only in the last 4-5 months that a curtain of darkness seemed to fall over her.
My mother was born in the little town of Marthaville, in rural west central Louisiana, in 1924. By the time she was 10, both of her parents had died and she was being raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who loved her like their own. During her teen years, she professed faith in Christ in the country church that she attended with her family.
It would have been very easy for her to be angry and bitter about the losses she had experienced. Instead, she was a caring, loving servant to family and friends all of her life. During World War II, she was one of the first female employees in the United States Weather Bureau (which later became the National Weather Service). After the war, she met my dad, an air traffic controller, as she delivered weather reports to the control tower. They were married in 1948.
She and my dad took my brother and me to church, raised us in a stable home, and gave us the foundations for life. In time the foundation they laid in my life bore fruit as I came to know Christ personally in college.
Since she believed that, “Anyone who forgets their roots is asking for trouble,” she made sure that all of us knew our family’s history. She also passed on her “recipes” (no measuring allowed!) for cornbread dressing and banana pudding. Through the years, my mother was a loving mother-in-law to Judy and to Jeff’s wife Donna, and a wonderful grandmother to all 5 of her grandchildren. She had met her two great-granddaughters as well.
Sometime during 2004 or 2005, we began to notice changes in her mental abilities. Thankfully, by 2006 she had voluntarily stopped driving. In December 2006, she suddenly did not know who my dad was. The dreaded disease had taken hold. In August 2009 my dad passed away, and on that same day we placed Mama in a nursing home. Again, God was merciful in His timing. My dad did not have to witness that decision, and my mother was unaware of the sadness of his death.
On Friday May 6th at approximately 6 AM, Mama was loosed from her chains and into the loving arms of Jesus.
If you would like to know more about Alzheimer’s, including how to help those affected by this condition, please visit Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org).