Monday, March 9, 2009

"God's Been Very Good To Me"

The Gospel reading at Mass this past Sunday was The Transfiguration, and the sermon was about God’s Goodness and God’s Forgiveness. The priest said that sin disfigures us, but God through His Goodness and His Forgiveness transfigures us. And while the priest was talking I thought about how right he was. I thought about the many times in my life that sin disfigured my soul, and sin disfigured my life, and I thought about the many times that God’s Forgiveness transfigured my soul and the many times that God’s Goodness transfigured my life.
And I thought about the times I questioned God’s Plan. I never doubted that God Had A Plan, but I did question His Plan at times. And, in questioning God’s Plan I know I was permitting my soul to be disfigured and allowing my life to be disfigured. And I thought of the time I questioned God about my Mom, and God in His Goodness and Mercy answered me through my Mom. Alzheimer’s Disease had disfigured her very being, my Mom suffered with this disease for the last seven years of her life, and our family lost her in bits and pieces until there was very little left of the strong, enthusiastic, engaging, likable, friendly, woman that she had been. Each passing day left us missing her more and more. Losing my Mom to Alzheimer’s was one of the most heartbreaking experiences we’ve had to endure. In many ways, watching Mom deteriorate mentally was more cruel than watching Dad deteriorate physically. While my Dad’s body betrayed him, and he had to give up all of his independence, he was still my Dad, none of his personality was altered in any way. Not only did my Mom lose her independence, she also lost the unique qualities that made up her personality. One wonderful trait my Mom had was that she was a great conversationalist. My Mom could converse with anybody. She was interested in everyone and people found her easy to talk to. Sadly, Alzheimer’s robbed my Mom of her vocabulary.
Near the end, for the most part, my Mom spoke only gibberish. Here and there you could catch a word to make sense of what she was trying to convey, but most times she was just this sad, lost soul, wandering around, making no sense at all. On a rare occasion my Mom would have a moment of clarity, and for a few Blessed moments there was a glimpse of my Mom and there was the brief hope of a chance to have a familiar chat, just like we used to do for oh so many hours. But then in an instant the moment had passed, and the hope was dashed.
Mom was living in a nursing home for the last year of her life and sometimes a Eucharistic Minister would come by to offer Communion, and surprisingly my Mom seemed to understand that she was receiving our Blessed Lord, and when we said the Our Father together, well, most times the right words wouldn’t come to her, but she would bow her head in reverence, and she knew to respond “Amen” after the minister offered the Host up to her and said, “The Body Of Christ”. The day finally came though when she didn’t realize anymore what was happening, and she didn’t understand the Sacrament, and she didn’t want to take Communion anymore, or if she did receive the Host she would then try to spit it out after the minister left, and I would have to coax her to drink some water to distract her and to get her to swallow. That was especially depressing because my Mom was very devoted to her Catholic Faith, and for her not to recognize this Sacrament was devastating to me. And I questioned God as to why this too had to be taken from her?
Most times after that my Mom would shake her head no to the minister if he came by and she would point to me, but on one of the last visits that the minister made to us before my Mom passed she did bow her head for the prayer, and when offered the Eucharist she did receive. After the minister left I remarked to my Mom how nice it was that the minister came by and that we were able to receive, she was already busy with her coloring and didn’t look up or acknowledge me, and I didn’t expect her to, but then she lifted her head and looked at me and said, “God’s been very good to me.” And I knew then that no matter what may happen to our bodies or to our minds, God’s Goodness and God’s Mercy still touches our souls. Even in her confused and distorted state of mind my Mom knew that God had been very good to her. It validated to me my belief that she was more than this disease she had seemed to become. And it was confirmation that God didn’t abandon her, and even in her altered state, she did not abandon God. Our souls still have that connection even if the outside world can’t see it. Just because I couldn’t see her connection to God did not mean that it didn’t exist for her. And just because my Mom wasn’t able to participate in religious ceremonies didn’t mean that anything Sacred had been denied her. Mom was still united with God. Those words spoken by my Mom were a gift to me from God, one that I will always treasure.
Whatever the future holds for me, I know that God’s Goodness and God’s Forgiveness will transfigure me, and I pray that my soul can always remember what my Mom’s soul remembered -
“ God’s been very good to me.”


  1. Elaine,

    I clicked on your name and found your blog. Your write beautifully. Would love to see you write something for our blog. Your family is beautiful.

    I can relate to your post regarding your mother. My parents are in their 80s and their health is declining. It is not easy to stand by and watch. My parents are more accepting of it than I am.

    I love your house. My parents still live in the house that I grew up in. It was built in 1900 and they have lived there since 1959. Very large 3 story farm house. Way too much house for someone their age but they refuse to move and part of me is pleased with that.

    Your blog is probably intended for family members but I truly enjoyed it.



  2. Nina, I'll thank you on your blog in case you're never back here again, but, truly, thank you!
    I don't think I could ever feel confident enough to do you justice on your blog though, but your invitation is one of the nicest compliments I have gotten in my life, and it will be placed in my 'treasure box'.
    You are welcome to visit my world any time you want. And, please comments, suggestions, criticisms, all will be much appreciated.