Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Face

I'm almost never home at 3 PM on a weekday but I was this afternoon. I turned on the television and Dr. Oz had a show on how they are becoming closer to finding remedies to slow down or reverse Alzheimer's, something dear to my heart. The following is from April 26, 2009.
They sat two rows ahead of me in worship this morning. In many ways, this family is much like mine. There are several grown children and the father/husband is one of our former elders. But the resemblances don't stop there. The wife/mother has Alzheimer's. I have seen this beautiful, cheerful lady slowly fade into the shadows of the dreaded disease. My family has been down that same path. The sisters and brothers in our congregation love on her, just like other Christians did on our mother in St. Louis. This morning as we sang, she barely moved her lips as it seemed she was fighting for something she might recognize. I remember that, too. The last thing I think Mom lost in her memory were the hymns she had been lifting to the Lord since her infancy. My brother, Dave, said that when people offered condolences on Mom's passing, everyone had their own story; a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or a best friend had suffered just like Mom. And as I watched the daughter lovingly wheel her mother out of the church auditorium this morning, I was reminded how that family each day is living through their own story.

Not many people know what I am about to tell you. Last summer, I was approached by HBO about participating in a documentary concerning the effects of Alzheimer's on families. A researcher had found a blog I had written about Mom and contacted me. To make a long story short, HBO was interested in filming Karis and me as we transported Mom from her St. Louis nursing home to her new residence in Wichita last June, putting a camera crew inside the vehicle as we made the journey. I spent several hours on the phone with those in charge of the project, looking at the logistics. I did some soul searching and discussed it with family members for input. HBO wanted realism and realism and Alzheimer's do not make a pretty combination. I would not agree without the consent of the family, especially Karis, but in the end, we felt Mom's story would honor her and help families dealing with their own situations. Because of the time frame we were working in, there were problems and in the end, HBO's legal department would not sign off on it. It would have been very difficult to obtain permission from any patient at either facility, especially since many could not speak for themselves and our window of opportunity was tiny. So, it never came to be but for two days, I thought Mom, Karis, and I would help put faces on this disease that threatens the dignity of more and more of our seniors. I admit to a small bit of disappointment but then I already knew the face of Alzheimer's as I looked at my mother- it was the face of an angel.

Applicable quote of the day:
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
Washington Irving

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Volleyballs said...

Wow Coach Hawley! I hope that the mother and daughter spend every moment they can with each other.

Jeanette Gartner said...

Beautiful, Steve! You continue to honor your mother in every blog and every memory you share. I do wish HBO had been able to tape your trip. What a testimony that would have been to handling Alzheimer's with grace, love and dignity.

Susan said...

I remember that day as if it were yesterday and saying goodbye to Nelda for the last time. I'm sorry it didn't work out Steve. I think it would have proved to be beneficial to so many others!