What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Opa, our turn

Last week, thanks to my Mom's 13 passenger van (known as, THE BUS), my sister, Mom and I were able to load up our littles and travel northward for a visit with some extended family: a visiting Uncle from the Netherlands, a very hospitable Aunt and a very dear Opa.

I hate long drives and I hate driving places I don't know very well but both problems are solved when you have good company and are just the passenger.

It was a great time, albeit short. (Although, Aunt Jan was probably glad for us to go with our seven children in tow!)

Opa looks very well and I am always so pleased to see him.

I am coming to terms with the fact that today's Opa is a different man entirely to the grandfather I grew up loving and will be a different man the next time I see him as well.

Alzheimer's steals more than memories. It steals the future too.

I mourn those things that once were, those wonderful things that will never be again. The stories he tells, his history. He no longer remembers his first home or even what he has degrees in. I mourn that the advice-giving days are over at what seems just the moment I began to listen. I mourn that he asks in whispers where his wife is when too long a time has stretched and then must relive her death. "How long since she has died?" he asked and whomever is the newsbearer at the time says "seven months".

"Only seven months? It seems like such a very long time to be without her. The pain is very great and I am just so terribly bad not to remember! I don't remember how she died, or when, or how much she suffered before she died."

Tears choke back and I cannot speak.

Yet with the unfathomable sadness of treasures lost, there come quiet, happy moments to temper the pain. Never have I been so complimented by him than I do now. There was a time when his bluntness was unbearable and could be so unkind. He shows genuine love and interest in babies now whereas he used to be too caught up in conversation to notice them much at all. His jovial spirit seems all the more jovial.

I learned that he is enjoying puzzles these days, and word searches. So I enjoyed making him a few of his own to send with little bits of mail. Word searches with the names of his descendants, of his characteristics, and of familiar things. (You can make your own at this site)

I was also happy to see that he has been enjoying a gift I sent along with my mother the last time she went to visit him.

Seeing the photo there on the coffeetable for him to look at really meant so much. Seeing his hands, holding on to it was like having him hold on to a bit of my heart.

My Mom and her Dad. I wouldn't exist without them. I was born from the love my mother and dad shared and that could only be with the love of Opa toward Oma. And so, in his hands he holds my heritage, my very life.

It was a very nice visit.
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Bonnie said...

What a wonderful visit! I LOVE that picture of your mom and him, it is beautiful!
I choked up over his asking about your Oma, how heart wrenching.
I am glad to hear he is doing so well, despite the Alzheimer's, (not becoming crusty and grumpy) and that you are able to get to see him fairly often.
A hug for you my friend!

Peggy said...

O Rebecca, it makes me teary eyed to just think of what you are going through! You have a very sweet spirit and it is evident in the love you have for your family!!

Isn't is wonderful to know we have a Father in heaven who loves us even more!?! Nevertheless, I will continue to pray for you all!!

The picture of your mother and her father will be such a precious memory for her in years to come! Thank you!

Domestic Accident said...

Oh, I can't imagine how hard that is. Pre-children, I worked with patients with Alzheimers and very much enjoyed helping them.

Rebecca, have you read the book Still Alice? It's about a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. A great, wonderful book. I highly recommend it.

Wendy said...

I hope when I am old and gray that I will have a dedicated and loving family make the effort to see that I am loved and cared for like yours...Your Grandfather looks really good! It must do his heart good to have so many doting people to visit with:)

Elizabeth said...

And this is a very nice post....

...they call me mommy... said...

Sounds like you had a delightful time!!

Blessings, Rebecca!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I lost my grandmother to Alzheimers earlier this year. It does steal the future, she never knew her grandchildren. We have pictures of her holding them, but she didn't know who she was holding. :(
I believe its also been said that it's also the longest goodbye.

Treasure the memories.