Monday, May 14, 2007

Grandma wanted to borrow the DVD of my life

A couple weeks ago my grandmother passed away in Monticello, AR. She had pneumonia, but had been debilitated from about 10 years of Alzheimer's disease. On the morning I found out that she died, I felt glad and strangely confident that she was now finally and completely made whole. Alzheimer's is such a difficult disease, that I felt like I had mourned her loss over the course of 10 years--the news of her death was an end to that mourning for me. This isn't the same experience for everyone who knew and loved grandma. My mother, for instance had developed a rhythm of going down to visit her, sitting with her, and was there when she died. My grandpa used to walk to the nursing home every day to make sure they were caring for her as they should. My visits were more infrequent; so for me the loss is less a disruption to the rhythm of life. My dad and I did the funeral service. I was glad that I was given the honor of memorializing her--being the oldest grandchild, I took the approach that I was there to give voice to the grandchildren, and to relate how grandma was a loving grandparent.

As I mentioned, she suffered (and we all suffered) with Alzheimer's for about 10 years. This is such a vexing disease for one who proclaims the reality of the spirit (where was her spirit in those last years? trapped?) and the sanctity of remembrance (there seem to be theological as well as existential consequences to the loss of memories). But for some reason, when reading over the funeral scriptures, I drew confidence from Paul's beautiful words, "we shall be changed, in the twinkling of an eye" and in John's mystical vision of God's proclamation, "Behold, I make all things new." It has been a while since a scripture has penetrated my mind and touched my heart. Usually they just get stuck in the swirling world of ideas, study, and application. These two pierced my heart and formed my words that I shared with the family during the funeral. Praise God!

I share all of this because last night I had a dream that grandma was sitting in my grandparents cluttered living room, and I was there with her. Grandma was really excited to watch this DVD I was holding. It was a home-made DVD similar to ones that I've made of video clips of Wesley's first year, or like the ones I made for our family for this past Christmas, except that this DVD was somehow a record of the 10 years of my life that she missed. I remember feeling a great deal of excitement about the prospect of sharing those moments with her, and when I woke up, I felt refreshed as soon as I opened my eyes for the first time in a long time.

And by the way, the photo is taken by my sister, who is very talented. I'm sure she doesn't mind that I lifted it from her flickr site (Haley Ruth), even though it says "rights reserved."

1 comment: