Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Solomon, the wisest man in all of the Bible wrote these words to his son. The book of Proverbs still has the power to speak to us. What a gift to be able to learn more of God’s wisdom for our lives in this great book. Proverbs is a favorite book in our family, a place to go to understand all the ins and outs and consequences of human behavior. I have had a tendency to jump into things thinking that I know all about what I am going to do. This was true about the opportunity and promise to my dad that I would take care of mom. How hard could it be?
After my mother’s stroke and ensuing dementia, there were changes in her demeanor and behavior we were not necessarily ready for. I did not understand so much of what was happening to my dear mom. There was a great need for me to lean on the Lord and his wisdom to love on mom. Some of those behaviors made me think to myself that what she was doing was very interesting to study if it were anyone else but my mom. It was curious and often quite funny and we did not understand at all what was happening to her once sharp mind. People suffering from dementia eventually lose any filter. When you and I speak, we think about what we are going to say (or should) in order not to hurt or offend. Mom gradually lost this filter. The first occurrence that illustrated this lack of filter came shortly after mom’s stroke. It was when our first grandson was born. My oldest daughter had come for a holiday visit where most of my family was gathered. She and her husband came with their 6-year-old daughter and new son. My grandson was named after family on my son-in-law’s side. It consisted of two syllables. Mom took one look at the baby and said “_______ is too long a name for such a tiny baby. I’m going to call him Davy”. This was interesting indeed. My daughter, a gracious lady replied to her grandmother, ” that’s ok grandma, you can call him whatever you want.” She did indeed keep calling him Davy. When he became old enough to recognize his name it puzzled my mom why he would not come to her when she called him Davy. Five years later our son and his wife had their first child, a boy. His name also was only two syllables long. Mom again declared his name too big for a little guy. ” I’m going to call him Joey”. Curious indeed. We certainly did not understand but knew once her mind was made up that was it.
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. Proverbs 3:13 . Every day there would be a new puzzle with mom and her ever-changing behavior. Every day held a new opportunity to understand. One time after hearing something unusual that her grandmother had done my oldest daughter stated that grandma was like a two-year-old, only not. This was completely so. I wanted to understand so badly how to treat her well. I never wanted to be a source of hurt for her, only a source of help. How could this be accomplished? Just like a two-year-old, she needed constant watching which could be very stressful at times. For those of you with children, do you remember how complete silence made you nervous? You knew that when your young child was being completely silent that there was surely trouble afoot. One day, I was finishing up the dishes when I realized it was much too quiet in the living room where I had settled mom after her breakfast. I walked into the living room to find her missing. I called her and heard no answer. Our house had an alarm that would make a sound if someone tried to go outside. It had not gone off so I knew she was somewhere in the house. I found her in her small bathroom standing in front of the mirror chopping her hair. The scissors in her hand were pointing straight at her right eye as alarmed I squeaked ” Mom, what are you doing?” “Cutting my hair”, she answered as I grabbed the scissors out of her hand. She was quite pleased with herself but had made a mess out of her lovely hair. I remembered how my own children had tried the same thing when small. Fortunately, our hairdresser and friend took care of mom styling her hair in such a way that you could barely discern the damage. The fear that mom could harm herself in my care was real and disturbing. How could I keep this dear lady safe without making her feel completely useless? So many things I did not understand. I certainly knew that I could not do this on my own. My husband truly was my helpmate, we were in this boat of loving mom together. Even more important was the ability to lean on the Lord. I know for sure that I made many mistakes taking care of mom. I also know that God fills in the blanks. Where I failed, God filled. He filled our home with joy and comfort making mom’s last few years secure and peaceful.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; What truth was given to Solomon’s son through these words, and what a burden lifted for us today. You may not understand at all what is going on in the mind of your loved one, or how to accept them as they are. You may not understand fully how to best take care of them. The Lord does though, and he will be your guide. Lean on him as you learn to love on the one put into your care. May our God Bless you in this endeavor.