My mom has moderate Alzheimer’s disease. She was diagnosed three years ago. She struggles, at this point, with finding the right words in conversation. She doesn’t remember something that you told her a minute or two before. She can’t write the face of a clock, or remember what day it is. Though a published author, she can no longer concentrate on an idea long enough to follow it through in conversation or on paper. My mom can’t do the things she used to do. However, though her cerebral capacity and function have decreased, the progression of the disease has brought an increase in Christian virtues, a greater capacity for the things that hold eternal value.
She always has a smile on her face. She always greets me with a warm hug, and never fails to say “I love you so much” when she leaves. She will sit and lovingly fold each piece of my laundry with great care, overjoyed to be able to help me with a needed task. She is more full of joy than she ever has been, and it’s the joy of a child-like heart — the kind of heart we are all supposed to have. More than anything, she sees real beauty. She sees the beauty that I miss in my busyness.
She responds to a butterfly landing on the bush outside our window with total wonder. She calls our attention to the birds coming to rest on the deck railing with awe-filled whispers and silent beckoning. One early spring morning, when the first flock of birds came to roost in a still stick-like tree, she was so excited. She called me to see it. I hesitated, saying “just a sec,” busy at my computer. She walked over to me, looked at me, and lovingly said, “You have to stop and see this. It is more important.” It wasn’t a reproach. It was a tender plea to not miss the wonder outside my window, the hopeful picture of Springtime life that would soon replace the winter’s chill.
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My mom has a horrible disease that will one day take her from me before I want it to; but my mom expresses nothing but joy and gratitude for the daily gift of life. She sees the goodness of her Creator and the beauty of His creation. She doesn’t cling to sorrow; her eye is on the wonder of the sparrow. She is living as He intended her to live, and she is being the person He intended her to be. Her life full of meaning and purpose; and she is much closer to heaven than I, for she is attached to nothing that she can’t take there with her.
Copyright 2016 Jessica Ptomey
About the Author
Jessica Ptomey is a Catholic convert, author, speaker, Communications scholar, home educator, and Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart Church in Bowie, MD. She blogs at JessicaPtomey.com. She is the author of Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith, and her research in inter-faith dialogue has been published in the Journal of Communication and Religion (JCR). She is also the co-host with her husband Mike of The Catholic Reading Challenge podcast.