#WorthRevisit: True Valentines by Barb Szyszkiewicz @franciscanmom

#WorthRevisit: True Valentines

Originally written February 15, 2006:

A couple I know from church popped into my mind quite a bit yesterday. And appropriately so, because it was Valentine’s Day, after all.

When they attended Mass together, they always sat in the very front pew. She has Alzheimer’s. No one told me this, but from the few conversations I have had with her over the four years I’d been at that parish, and from observing how her husband and others behaved around her, that was my conclusion. A friend of theirs did confirm this to me right before Christmas.

They often attended the Mass with the children’s choir. The “Gloria” that we used at that Mass has hand-clapping during the refrain, and they would stand there, and he would sing, and she would clap.

He is a Secular Franciscan and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. When he would leave the front pew to assist with the Sacrament, someone from a neighboring pew would quietly sit down with his wife, guide her through the Communion line and back to the pew, and wait with her until he returned after the purification of the vessels.

When he sat down again with her, her eyes would light up and she would smile the most beautiful, happy smile I have ever seen. And he had a smile just as big to return to her.

That’s love.

In the kindness of your prayers today, please remember those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and those who love them.

And pray for the people of that parish, whose church is slated to be closed before July 1. I’m sure this is beyond difficult for them.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Christmas in the Year of Mercy

I prayed Christmas Eve Vespers last night while sitting in a chair at the foot of my mother-in-law’s hospital bed.

All those years we took for granted our health, our loved ones’ health, everyone’s ability to be together and celebrate Christmas. All those years did not prepare us for this one; how Hubs and I would be at the hospital, comforting his mother who no longer knows his name or recognizes him as her son.

He’s back at the hospital with her today instead of hanging out here at home with us, relaxing, enjoying snacks and watching Christmas movies. Or movies someone got for Christmas (not always the same thing).

It just about kills him–as it has been for the past several years–that he can’t fix this. He can’t make Alzheimer’s go away. He can’t bring back his mom’s memory.

He can only sit by and hold her hand and reassure her again and again and again and again that everything is OK, that he is there. He can hold the water bottle and help her drink. He can play her favorite hymns on his iPhone and hold it close to her ear so she can hear familiar music.

He is doing those works of mercy like they’re his job (as the kids would say). They’re not his job, actually. He does them out of love.

Christmas Eve sqLast night he missed his family’s Christmas Eve party for the first time in his life. The kids went; we are thankful that 2 of our kids are old enough to drive so they could enjoy this time with their cousins after visiting Grandma in the hospital.

Today he missed Mass with the family and he’ll miss dinner. We’ll save him some, but it won’t be the same. Honestly, I don’t even care if we eat. We have plenty of snacks and another giant box of Bagel Bites, and the rest of the enormous pan of baked ziti one of his cousins generously sent home with the kids so Hubs and I could have a meal after we got home from the hospital.

It was hard to rejoice, this morning at Mass, knowing that while we sang “Silent Night” Hubs was on his way into that hospital room to spend the day listening to his mom talk (sometimes in Polish), holding her hand, trying to get her to eat something–anything–and having only snacks for himself until he gets kicked out of the room at the end of visiting hours, then driving more than an hour to get back here.

This is our Christmas in this Year of Mercy.

It’s going to be a hard year.

Please pray for Hubs, and his mom, and our family, and all others whose lives are impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia. May God have mercy on us all.

Related: Erin McCole Cupp’s “Christmas is Not Supposed to Be Like This” is hitting especially hard right now–but is also a great comfort.