This is my first visit to Yakima, Washington at this time of year. Most often I’ve come in the summer when the weather is warm and dry. The days long this far north and the skies clear blue.
I didn’t come to see the change of seasons but to see what change has come with mama’s dementia. I packed light, not bringing a coat but sweaters and shirts to layer. I didn’t realize how this can mirror my emotional packaging. It, too was layered, cautious at first as I peered in to see what I could shed.
We went with two of her sisters today. Five women from two generations gathered in her apartment laughing like we always have. Still the hostess, mama gets up to offer her “guests” a drink. She pulls Cokes from her little refrigerator and passes them around then forgets where her refrigerator is. That would explain why I find articles of clothing in kitchen drawers and her picture box in the cupboard. This reminder to me of why mama is here, why I am here.
There is a band playing in the activity room and we walk down to listen. Mama’s foot taps in beat to the music. She laughs at the jokes a woman reads between some of the songs. I shed some layers and pull the camera to snap a few moments (even under threat from an aunt!)
The resident director asks to see Lisa and I in her office. She calls us on to pray with us. Really? She takes our hands and holding firm she prays for God’s strength to be our strength, for God’s peace to be our peace. Tears fall from Lisa’s eyes and I think of the verse a friend shared with me on Facebook this morning. “God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace. (Psalm 29:11 MSG)”. From Russia this verse shared and now standing half a world away another woman prays these very things.
We go back with the others and prepare to say good-bye to mama. One asks if she would pray with us and she nods. We hold hands, all of us. I want to capture this in a picture but know I can’t. Know the others would think inappropriate. Mama hesitates and I wonder if she misunderstood and then she starts to pray. Her words still jumbled but I can understand the meaning. She is praying for the facility and others. Just like mama to pray for others.
I can only imagine what those words sounded like to God. He knows the voice of his children. He knows her voice, one who has called on him throughout her life. Her words may not be the right ones but her heart is right. A right heart. As clear as the blue skies God is hearing her wrong words ring right and clear through her heart.
(mobile WordPress will only allow photos at the beginning of a post, not in between paragraphs.)