Friday, October 10, 2014

Grateful For Dr. Phil

Several years ago at lunch, one of our intermediate teachers told me she had dealt with so many crying children that morning that she felt like a female version of Dr. Phil. Below is my favorite Dr. Phil story, from Thanksgiving of 2006.

Being trained as a history instructor has left me with the compulsion for remembering dates. Today, of course, is the forty-third anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, a murder that remains as controversial and mysterious now as it was in 1963. On the day before Thanksgiving my junior year in high school, I suffered my only car accident, ramming our Karmann-Ghia into a Lincoln Continental driven by a prominent businessman in our small Nebraska town. (Technically, the day before Thanksgiving that year was the 24th.) Holiday seasons tend to be nostalgic. This afternoon, I sat on the couch for an hour with my mom. She actually is slightly improved from my last visit, due to, in Dad's opinion, a decrease in the volume of her medications and taking them earlier in the day. Her Alzheimer's has rendered her passive. At times, she has conversations with invisible people or, as I witnessed the other evening, a bath towel. She remains incredibly sweet and never complains when she is hurting from the falls she has suffered in the past several years. Today, as we sat on the couch, we watched Dr. Phil and Mom held my hand. I am not sure if her eyes were opened but I am sure her hand kept squeezing mine. It was one of those shows where you are appalled at the disintegration of the American family. The first segment was a showdown between two sisters-in-law who despise each other. Both, in the words of Dr. Phil, look like lovely PTA moms, but they have a hatred for each other that borders on insanity. The last half centered around a single-parent home where abuse and anger permeate every conversation and interaction. And as I watched with a combination of horror and disdain, pity and outrage, I thanked God that I had a normal upbringing and amazing parents.

Last night, I joined my folks as we ate supper with some friends of theirs here in St. Louis. The husband/father is a very successful contractor who built Mom's and Dad's house. The wife/mother is a lovely lady who keeps their stunning home in immaculate condition. I learned something about Mom last evening. Our hostess told me my mother taught her the Bible and was very influential in her being baptized into Jesus Christ. I never knew there was any connection between the two. As I viewed the three terrific kids of this couple, I have to believe Mom made a difference. On Dr. Phil, the mother in the second segment told how it gave her great pleasure when she hit her son in the face, splitting his lip and drawing blood. I hate to use the term mother to describe both that woman and the woman that gave birth to me. It isn't easy anymore with Mom. At Bible study tonight, she remembered the words to the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) and sang along. Then, when we came home, she picked up a bottle of Parmesan cheese and began drinking it. She has not used my name since I arrived; she even asked a lady at church tonight if I was her son. She keeps reaching for unseen matter floating in the air and then gives what she has captured to me for disposal. But, she remembers she likes to have her hand held and when you sit close to her, she lays her head on your shoulder. Sometimes, we have to be grateful for small gifts. That is what I am thankful for this November. I just wish it didn't take Dr. Phil to remind me.

Applicable quote of the day:
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
Cynthia Ozick

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jenny Parish said...

Thanks for sharing... I am grateful for your mother raising you and your brother (and I am sure your other siblings too but I don't know them) to be such fine people... her blessings continue every day in you all....