Keeping a Promise

“Michael, a few years ago I promised I would call you when mom is dying. That’s why I’m calling. So if you want to come and see her, now is the time.”

I wouldn’t have guessed I would be making that phone call to my brother. Honestly my biggest struggle in the last six years has been the fact that my brothers have both bowed out at this time in her life. I’ve struggled with it…I resented them not being there or helping. I didn’t understand why there were no birthday cards, mother’s day flowers or an occasional phone call to find out how she’s doing.

But God gently lead me to fulfill that commitment to make that phone call.

While my mother has recovered nicely from the pneumonia that had sent her to the hospital a couple of weeks ago, she has gone downhill rapidly. I was hoping the deficits that she experienced during her hospitalization would rebound when she returned Brighton Gardens, her home for the last six years.

At first it appeared that she would bounce back. She seemed to be interacting a little more and even started eating a bit. But those hopes were short lived.

Now her head is down most of the time. A by product of Alzheimer’s. The disease has now effected her neurologically…and she can’t hold up her head for more than couple of seconds. That means she’s not able to look around and see what’s going on around her. She’s not able to look people in the face, unless they get down and look up into her face. Her appetite with pureed foods has diminished…but never more so than now when drinks are reduced to thickened liquids. That in the attempt to keep her from chocking, but has instead taken away her desire to eat or drink.

While there were times her constant humming…or counting and banging was annoying…her silence and non communication is much worse. Now days a squeeze of hand is about as good as it gets. On a good day…she might even look at me briefly.

She’s given up…and no longer wants to live. I think the nail in the coffin, so to speak, was when she was transferred to the rehab facility. There she was the patient in bed 40 C, not Gayle. Thank goodness for Hospice. They were able to get my mom transferred back to Brighton Gardens, where she is Gayle. Someone who is well known and well loved.

But now she is dying. She is not eating or drinking. She interacts minimally…and there is nothing that I can do to change it, or make it better.

Yes…I’m praying…and know that God cares and is at work in the situation.

Mostly I pray for my mom’s salvation. I don’t know with any degree of certainty that she is saved. She has been in church, but I don’t know if she is in Christ? She was raised by Christian parents, went to church when she was young. When she got married…her faith was not expressed, nor taught to her children. When my dad died…that’s when my mom started going back to church. I struggle with knowing whether she has a saving faith in Jesus Christ, because I don’t see how someone would forsake their genuine faith and fail to teach that life giving faith to their children. When she remarried…we went to church as a family.

I discussed faith with my mom over the years. Especially after I became a Christian. I’m not sure if she was just private about her faith? Or if she has an intellectual acknowledgment that there is a God, but that not really believing that Jesus is the only way to salivation? Does she really believe in the reality of hell? I don’t know.

Sometimes my mom would go to church with me when she was visiting for the day. I know then she did hear the Gospel message. We dialogued about faith…but I can’t honestly say, “Her spirit bore witness with my spirit.”

So when one of the workers at Brighton comforted me with the thought that my mom seems to be in peace during her dying process…I have no peace or comfort at that thought.

I would be at peace with her death, if I was assured of her salvation.

But I don’t know that, nor do I have that peace. If she doesn’t know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, then the peace she has now in dying will give way to utter, unending torment in hell for eternity. How can I have peace with that?

Yet…I know that death is a divine appointment. There is no panic in heaven, only plans. God is still able to reach that mind, even in the midst of Alzheimer’s. So I pray, I sing hymns and tell her about Jesus. I ask God that He might give me a sign that she has a genuine saving faith. But I know that I might not know that, this side of eternity. No matter what, I will still praise Him.

My biggest regret is that, while she still had her faculties, I didn’t live a life that made my mother hunger and thirst to know Christ. I didn’t have a peace that drew her to know Jesus. I didn’t have a consistent trust in Jesus, no matter what my circumstances were that made her ask, “How can I have that too?”.

I’m adopted…and so many of my family members don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior. I wonder why God plucked me out and called me to a saving faith…in the midst of unbelieving family members. I wonder…what good has my life been as a witness to Christ, if my own mother dies without receiving Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

So I don’t have a lot answers right now. But I do know that God is at work in my mom. Even thought I might not know the outcome until I get to heaven. I know that my faith is being tested. Will I still praise and trust God, with some pretty important and critical unknowns? Will I? Yes, even now, I will yet praise Him.

Before I dialed the phone to tell my brother about our mom…I prayed, “God…give me the words, guide my words and actions.” I ended up leaving a message for my brother. I asked him to call me and I’ll give him the details. If he doesn’t call back, I’ll call him again. I figure he’s accountable before God for his actions. I don’t want to hold a grudge or carry the burden of resentment, hurt and pain any longer. It’s in God’s hands.

I’m praying that God will oversee the details and timing of my mother’s death. That in His mercy, she will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. That if she already knows Him…that God will give me a confirmation so that I can have His peace knowing her future is secure in Christ.

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