What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.
Is it to feel our strength –
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?
Yes, this, and more!
It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.
It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.
It is -last stage of all –
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Matthew Arnold
Echoes, echoes of the past–voices, so many familiar voices gone, now silenced by the closing of their life’s doors–memories, memories mingling with the present, all bringing the dark clouds that move in across her brain where the fury of raging storms begin on unfamiliar shores. The echoes, the voices, and the memories become scrambled in her dementia so that things and people once cherished create anxiety, anguish, and at times torment. Her mind, once sharp and clear, is now befuddled as she becomes more and more lost inside herself and her fears. Her family raised, her labors done, there is nothing left now but the lonely silence of her worsening deafness and the rapid waning of her vision. Soon she will be ever so far away from me, the one in whose womb my life began. Will she then still know my face and the feel of my touch? Will the skies ever again clear in her head and cast her weary, but back on familiar shores? Or has she begun the final journey of her dreaded aloneness? Please Lord, be with my mother as she struggles to navigate these dark passages of uncharted waters. Bring her comfort and peace, and if not mine, then let her recognize Your touch and know Your face. Let the child she has again become blindly trust as she once did that all is well with her soul and that You will care for her always. And let Your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind that’s becoming so profoundly confused, wounded, and betrayed by her aged, earthly body.
One of my followers commented yesterday on my memory post about the sadness of dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s, and I know that others of you are caring for elderly parents whose memories are failing. In those situations there are two or more people affected by the circumstances; both the aged and their caregiver(s) are profoundly impacted by this passage. So I decided to share the above with all of you. It is something I wrote in my journal during a long, hard night when I was caring for my 92-year-old mother before she passed away.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝
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Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝