It is not uncommon to see greatness in our elders. We see the courage it took to live lives filled with challenges, tragedy, disappointments, and losses. We see the wisdom gained from thousands of life lessons, each one contributing to the wealth of insight and understanding acquired in a lifetime. We see greatness in their faith in God and in the knowledge of who they really are. Not who they thought they were supposed to be or who someone else wanted them to be; but finally settling for and into who they really are. There is greatness in those who have created meaningful, faith filled lives which is evident in the joy and satisfaction with which they experience the last years.
But, my mother isn’t there yet. At ninety-two she is still struggling with her demons. It brings her to tears to think that her life is nearly over and she has never achieved what she thought would have given her life value and meaning. She does not recognize the gift she has been for others; she only sees her losses – the loss of her physical abilities, physical attributes, opportunities, and the loss of the chance to “be somebody”. My mother does not yet know in her heart, in her experience, that she is a precious a child of God. My prayer for her is that between now and her last breath she has an opportunity to have that experience and feel loved beyond measure. We all must go through the “dark night of the soul” where we come to terms with our failures and shortcomings; our doubts and fears, but then, on the other side, is the light of God’s Love for us and the promise of eternal life. It’s hard to watch a loved one go through this frightful place. Sometimes, I just want to shout at her to get off the pity pot. But instead, I pray. I pray for the Unconditional Love of Christ to fill my heart so that I can be the loving daughter that my mother needs right now. Only with God’s Grace can I be that for my mother.
I failed miserably today though. I was so mad I could have smacked her! She had finally convinced my dad that he had to get rid of the kitten he had gotten from the shelter. Mom has been on a vendetta to rid the house of that cat since it walked in the door a few weeks ago. My dad has wanted a cat for the past 30 years but my mother always said no. She gave in this time only to launch the counter attack. It was maddening to go to their home three or four times a week and hear what the darn cat did to upset her and how she can’t sleep because she is so troubled by the cat. I took the cat out of the house today because she had finally convinced my father it had to go. I wasn’t too spiritually grounded at this point – Christ was definitely not on my radar and I wasn’t looking for him either. I just wanted to punish my mother for being so selfish and for hurting my dad. It took many miles down the road, pleading for Grace in prayer one minute and ranting at my mother in my head the next, before I could feel God’s presence again. My mother does not need me to beat her up. She does a good enough job of that herself. My mother just needs me to love her and accept her the way she is – “Do unto others . . . ”. And the truth is, she is an amazing woman who has overcome many sorrows and hardships in her life. She has loved her five children and husband unconditionally, if not perfectly, her whole life. She has been my father’s helpmate for seventy three years! Being married that long is an amazing accomplishment! I see my mother’s greatness and I pray that she will find the joy and satisfaction she deserves.
We need to pay attention to our old folks. They teach us who we are and what struggles lie ahead for us all. I am my mother’s daughter. I swallowed her whole. Her demons are my demons. If I judge her or criticize her, I miss the lessons she has to teach me. To show her Christ’s Mercy is to learn of it for myself.