Friday, August 13, 2010

This Is True Love...

I received an email this week that told the following story:
     An elderly gentleman in his 80's was in a rush to get to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's disease. She no longer knew who he was and in fact she had not recognized him for the last five years.
     And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?” I asked.
     He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is.”
     That is the kind of love I want in my life. The kind of true love that is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

It spurred memories of my paternal grandmother who also suffered with Alzheimer’s for many years. I watched her memory of who I was, who her own children were, and the life she had lived in her 80-plus years slowly disappeared from her consciousness. Even the recognition of my aunt, who cared for Grandma twenty-four hours a day to the detriment of her own health, was eradicated by the disease. When confronted by one of her own sons that surely she must remember him as he held an old black and white photo of him as a child out for her to see, Grandma become confused, agitated, and hostile. He needed so much for her to recognize him, to call him son, and it was beyond her ability.

I also remembered my mother’s mom who had cancer that spread to her brain which caused her to suffer severe dementia as the cancer ate away at her short-term and then long-term memory. It wasn’t unusual for her to welcome you many times during a one-hour visit as if you just walked in the door. She just wasn’t able to retain the memory of your arriving. During one such visit, I watched my mother say “Hi Mom, nice to see you,” with patience, grace, understanding and love each of the dozen or so times Grandma greeted us. In that hour, my mom taught me that love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be in a way I will not easily forget.

As I thought about these things, I realized that I too had suffered a kind of spiritual Alzheimer’s or dementia before I came to know Jesus. He is my Creator, my God, and yet sin had destroyed that part of my soul which held the recognition of who he was and is to me. In his amazing love, he never left my side even when I couldn’t acknowledge him. I may not have known who he was, but he knew me and loved me. He didn’t try to force me to recognize him in my life the way my uncle did with Grandma but rather just accepted me as I was the way my mother did with her mother. He was with me then and he is with me now even when I foolishly get too busy to look for, listen to, and recognize him in my daily life. He loves me perfectly with a love that accepts all that is, has been, will be, and will not be. That’s the kind of true love I have in my life.
About the pictures:
North Park (August 2002)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good one - makes me think of going to see my dad when he couldn't "see" me...