This was the day I’ve dreaded and would have done just about anything to avoid. But there’s no stopping it.
It’s been a long time coming…but suddenly it’s here. Hard to believe…but it was just a month ago…my mom was doing okay…the Alzheimer’s way. Then a phone call about a quarter to 11 pm on April 4th…started a chain of events that seem unstoppable.
My mom was being transported to the emergency room because she was having trouble breathing. I arrived at the emergency room and found her in bed struggling for every breath. It wasn’t just labored…she was fighting for each breath. I was reminded of someone who had just run a marathon and couldn’t catch their breath. Gayle was conscience, but not really. As the night wore on, tests were done, breathing treatments were given and her breathing improved. Despite my protests and efforts to keep her at Placentia Linda, my mom was transported to Anaheim Memorial.
I texted Chris, “Mom in ER, call you in the AM”. Our date and plans for the day would have to be set aside. I headed home about 2:30 in the morning. The hospital promised to call me with confirmation that she would be transferred and when. Before I even lay my head on the pillow I got the call…she would be transferred within the hour. When the phone rang at 5, I tried to focus and answer the nurse’s questions. They would be getting Gayle settled and I went back to sleep…even if it was just a few hours.
I set the alarm for 8. I figured that’s not too early to call Chris and break the bad news. I found Chris awake and getting ready. He was surprised by the news…but eager to come and be my side…even if that was in a hospital room. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to feel the warmth of his embrace and have him by my side as we navigated the hall and maze of Anaheim Memorial.
In the 3 ½ days at the hospital my mom’s interactive abilities declined steeply. While not able to engage in a conversation…she was able to respond. Some of the nurses we encountered were very good. Kind, sweet and made the effort to help someone who could not function on their own. Some of the nurses left me asking why in the world they are working in nursing. Nothing in their personality or skills gave any hint of compassion and caring.
As difficult as that was…it paled in comparison to what we would experience over the next few days and weeks. The bad dream would soon become a nightmare. Her title was discharge planner. But I was certain I had seen her in a movie and her name was Nurse Ratched. Wretched would be a more apt description. I begged her to try and get Gayle transferred back to Brighton Gardens. She said she’d try and even took down names and contact numbers. But because she was unwilling to give the information they needed to evaluate if she could be returned…it remained in limbo. It was only after I talked with the folks at Brighton I discovered that this woman had lied to me. Her lies, laziness and lack of compassion resulted in Gayle being transferred to St. Edna’s.
That’s the place where I first realized…my mom is going to die soon. The smell of the place left me with the overwhelming impression that she was going to die there. Her pneumonia was gone…but she was scared and depressed. She had given up. St. Edna’s was the death knell or the proverbial nail the coffin that would lead Gayle on the path to a divine appointment.
St. Edna’s was also the place where I was introduced to Hospice. These people worked miracles to get my mom transferred back to her home. A place where she is known as Gayle and not the patient in bed 40 C. She is well known and well love. A place where tears are shed at her impending death and hugs given in love.
She was transferred back to Brighton on a Saturday. While I knew she wouldn’t regain all her skills and functioning…I figured that she’d bounce back a bit. But I was wrong. Her improvement was short lived. She had given up…and that was most evident in the fact she had stopped eating.
That first day back she was looking quite ragged. Knowing that any girl feels better when they look better, I had her go to the beauty shop for a hair cut. Something short and much different than she had before. But I wanted something that would look good, even when she wasn’t doing good.
Her fading began and was more evident with each passing day. Oh she took a couple of bites of pudding and drank some juice…but that was it. Soon she would be eating nothing. Getting thickened juices down her would be considered a triumph. At first she was up and about in her new wheel chair. Before long she would be in bed, 24/7.
Then came the call from the Hospice nurse. She’s in the process of dying. Maybe a couple of weeks. My regular weekly visits now became a daily thing. At first she was awake for part of the time…interacting a bit. But soon…she’d sleep the whole time through…except when the pain awakened her.
While my mom’s state of salvation has been on my mind for many years…I now find myself desperate to make sure she is a daughter of the King of kings. If her salvation was based on works…she’d be saved. If one could go to heaven because they are good person…she would be welcomed through the Gates of Heaven.
But I know my scripture. I know salvation is not based on works, nor how good a person is. The Bible plainly tells us that there is no one righteous, no not one. If you confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, you will be saved.
To my knowledge my mom had never openly shared her believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He died to pay the penalty for our sins. That His death and sacrifice is applied to our sin debt when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior. My mom had been in church for many years…but I couldn’t say with assurance she is in Christ.
That’s why every visit now…I’m telling her about Jesus. I’m reciting the sinner’s prayer. Reading scripture, knowing that even now, even in her advanced state of Alzheimer’s that God can reach her. I’ve put in request after request that people pray for her salvation. When I get upset and cry, people try to comfort me and ask if they can do anything. My one answer is please pray for my mother’s salvation.
I’ve been surprised by people’s reactions. Not so much from unbelievers. They think that if someone is good they will go to heaven. But the responses that surprise me the most are from Christians. They assure me that she’s good and will go to heaven. She’s dying but she seems to be at peace.
That assurance brings me no comfort because I know that if she hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, this will be the last peace she will experience. I have been burdened and desperate for her salvation. My concern is for the eternal consequences of any unredeemed sinner.
At times she seems peaceful. But I’ve been there at night. That peace was exchanged for torture. A grimace crosses her face. Her glazed eyes seem to be following something along the ceiling. She is shaking her head no and can not be calmed.
While I claim no divine revelation…I believe it’s entirely possible that Satan has sent his demons to taunt her at the prospect that she will be joining them with her impending death. I look up at the ceiling. There’s nothing there visible to the eye. But she is seeing something…and is quite tortured.
That’s why I’m desperate for her salvation. I would rather she experience discomfort this side of heaven…and enter in to eternal rest and peace when she dies. That’s why I’ve ask my friends to go see her and pray with her and for her salvation. That’s why I called Chris on my cell phone and asked him to pray with us and for us. That’s why I don’t care what anyone thinks when I put the speaker on and place it next to Gayle’s ear as Chris prays for my mom and her salvation. That’s why I’m kneeling by her bed and praying on the phone with my beloved man. Where two or three are gathered together…even over the phone.
If my mom dies without Jesus…it won’t be because she’s not heard about him. It won’t be because no one has shared the Gospel message. It will be because she has a hard heart and wants to come to God her own way. Not the prescribed way that God has laid out in the Bible.
When I see the tortured look on her face and see that she can not be comforted…it’s a small preview of what her eternity will be like if she dies without Christ.
That’s why Jesus may be the last thing she hears from me as I’m desperate that God will use anything to bring her to a saving faith in Christ Jesus…before her divine appointment with death.
Her divine appointment has become mine. I’m not sure what God is teaching me in this. But I know He is at work, in both me and my mother. I would rather her death be painful and her eternal life be peaceful and joyous.
The nurses tell me her time is short. A day or two. It’s in the Lord’s hands…as is her salvation. Her inability to speak and give visible acknowledgement of faith is a reminder to me that our salvation is all a work of God, not of us, least any man should boast.
One of the blessings in these last days of her life is that I get to meet the nurses that work the overnight shift. Offer my thanks and encourage them as they work with people in the most critical time of their life. All too often when family is absent.
So…would you please join me in praying for my mother’s salvation? I would be most grateful. Her divine appointment is drawing close. Salvation is a work of God…and I pray that if she is not saved, that He will bring her to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.