Portions of this verse were actually sung at my wedding almost 42 years ago...and even though the song was intended as a message from the bride to the groom, the original scripture verse was actually spoken by a daughter in law (Ruth) to her mother in law (Naomi) after the death of Ruth's husband and Naomi's son.
This particular mother's day was very difficult for me, even though the day itself was pleasantly spent. You see, on this Mother's Day, as I remembered my own dear mother who had gone on to be with the Lord exactly five years ago, I also was saddened by the departure of my mother-in-law from my home, who went to stay with her other son and family after being with us for the past six months.
You may wonder why I was saddened...most people rejoice when their mother-in-law leaves town...and I must admit, in many ways it was actually a relief to me. But on the other hand, it was a very difficult experience. You see, my mother in law is showing all of the signs of increased dementia, and her departure from my home was extremely turbulent as she was overcome with anger mingled with fear and distrust of me and all others who had participated in her care in the recent past. I must also admit that my own reaction to her anger towards me was not exactly sweet and controlled. I responded like most anyone would respond when false accusations and allegations are hurled at them with such vehemence...and I know I must apologize to not only my mother in law, but to my Lord and Savior. I regret that I was not able to "turn the other cheek" and speak softly and humbly in the face of such uncontrolled wrath. Even though my response may have been justified at the time, it was still wrong and disrespectful of a dear woman that I have loved for all these years, and who, in her better days, also loved me as a daughter...not just a daughter in law.
This is the painful side of the effects of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. The dear ones we have loved and cherished and enjoyed for many years suddenly become strangers to us...and this goes both ways...the one suffering from dementia views her loved ones as strangers and enemies, and her children and family also view her as a person they no longer recognize and understand. She is not the same person we've always known and loved, and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to know how to deal with her unpredictable changes in behavior and mood each day. It also becomes a concern for not only her safety, but our own safety and security in the home. Oftentimes these behaviors can become so violent that one may actually fear for his life.
And so, difficult decisions have to be made...how to best care for one in such a condition as this. In our case, we had done everything we were "permitted" to do for her physical and medical care. When it became apparent that she was no longer going to accept our care and continue to trust us to help her, we had to make a decision to "pass the torch" onto the next in line...and let them try to move her on to the next level of care that is required to keep her protected, healthy and well treated. Even though it may appear that we are happy to be relieved of our "duty", we are not celebrating. We are grieving the loss of this dear one and the sweet kind of fellowship with her that we had previously enjoyed.
Two weeks ago my own father passed away, and I am still grieving that great loss. But sometimes I think there are some losses that are worse than death. We never lost a feeling of love and trust with my Dad. He was pretty much aware of us and enjoyed his family until the very end, as much as possible. With my mother in law, I fear that we will not be able to enjoy that kind of fellowship ever again, even though she may live for many years to come. And that is what grieves us today.