Parkinson’s-induced dementia was the diagnosis. Whatever the doctors called it, we just knew that our mother was gone, and in her place was a confused and sometimes difficult elderly lady. Slowly, Mom had lost her ability to walk, to care for herself, and finally to speak. She lived out her final years in a care home.
My father, my sister, and I divided up the week so that Mom would have a visitor every day. My “shift” was Wednesday and Sunday evenings. I wish I could say that I always joyfully looked forward to those times.
Although she recognized me, Mom could not call me by name. She did seem to enjoy hearing the news of my days, so I learned how to make conversation that didn’t require a reply. I massaged her feet, painted her fingernails, and brushed her hair. I sang her old gospel tunes that once would have had her harmonizing the alto line.
My immediate rewards were few—a smile, a relaxation of her tense muscles, and once, amazingly, a full sentence with volume and inflection—the final time I heard her speak. That evening will stay in my heart.
It was a hot summer night. Mom was alert. I wheeled her across the street to buy an ice cream. We ate it out in public—with ordinary, healthy people. “That was good!” she replied, meaning so much more.
She was sick and I visited her. Memories are mine to cherish and are more than enough reward.
Jesus promises that he sees what I did out of love and responsibility for my mother as also doing something for him. I am doubly blessed.
This stewardship story is from the Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine volume 6, which is based on the theme "Go and See" and Mark 6:38. Use the Giving magazine and theme materials to create a congregational stewardship emphasis on "Go and See". The Ecumenical Stewardship Center offers congregational stewardship resources featuring 16 different, timeless biblical themes. Peruse them all and place an order in the ESC web store.