Thursday, March 25, 2010

"God's Been Very Good To Me"


I am re-posting a story about my Mom, it certainly doesn't sum up the whole of my Mom's life, but it does sum up for me the whole of her Faith in God. And on her Birthday I love remembering this story and this gift that God gave to me when I needed it most.

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. This is a loving post about your Mom, Eileen. I relate to it in a very special way because
    Jack's Mom died from Alzheimers. It was a very long goodbye...15 years.
    It is the greatest comfort to know that your Mom is now and forever will be in the presence our Lord. I am glad that your Mom's words "God's been very good to me" were a gift to you. It is a precious gift, my friend.
    The most precious gift of all is the One who she is with today and forever...our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May you continue to feel that loving peace knowing that she is with Him.
    I am very blessed to have read your loving post about the gift God gave to you just when you needed it most. He is so good to us.
    Love to you, my friend....

  2. God did give you a gift with your mom's words Eileen, her disease was very painful for her family to watch her go through but perhaps she was more comfortable than you know at least that is what I hope.....I also feel that we grieve for our own feelings of loss even moreso than the loss of our loved ones. One day we will know all the mysteries we have had to live with through Faith, so Happy Birthday to your mom in heaven and I pray you have a day full of happy memories. She was so much more than the way she died, so celebrate the good years and the good memories, I am sure she would want you too.....big hugs to Jayden and Mia.......:-) Hugs

  3. You wrote a wonderful story Eileen, sad a bit but ultimately the goodness of God shined through. Somewhere deep inside your mother still felt this. It gives hope when feeling lost from our faith which happens at times.I am sorry that you can't spend your mothers birthday with her but I have no doubt that she is with you.
    Love You, Di ♥

  4. Happy Birthday Mom. I love you and I miss you more than I can ever express.


    Between this amazing story and the music is such a tribute to faith, to your Mom and to you all intertwined in love. Amen....

    Love to you always,

  6. Such a touching post, Eileen. I believe your feelings of love, understanding, and acceptance were felt by your mom, even though she could not convey that to you. I hope you find comfort in the memories of your life with your mom prior to her illness. In the last 2 months of my mother's life, I saw a similar change, it is hearbreaking. We learn from our painful moments though. Also, your mom is still here in your actions and the love you show so freely...your grandchildren so benefit from that...♥...Wanda

  7. I do so understand the pain in losing one to Alzheimer. Ron's mother, a delightful "lady" suffered as well and there is no way to express the pain when the changes are so radical. When they change them into someone you never knew. The helplessness is overwhelming. You can't fix it...God LOVE YOU!!!! Cathy

  8. Eileen, that was the most beautiful story! It just left such a smile on my face because of what she said. She was there, God was there, and he was watching over her even though she could not always tell you that or she would not have said those beautiful words to you. WOW that was amazing for you to hear I bet. I too in trying times questioned my Lord and Savior but only questioned him and always, in very soft ways would he let me know it was alright, and my heart would mend. It is only human nature I guess. Thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful story. It only confirms to me how sweet the spirit is. warm hugs and smiles...

  9. Oh, Eileen...this encourages me so much! Thank've brought happy and hopeful tears to my eyes...Yes, He never lets go of us...and I'm so very, very thankful! This is an extraordinarily beautiful post! Thank you for reposting it! I'm so glad I got to read it...Love you! Janine XO

  10. What a beautiful and touching post Eileen. I think in any given situation God is trying to teach us something through others. Look at the wonderful knowledge you gained from your mother. You might of just let that moment slide by unnoticed but you didn't. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. "God has been very good to me' by pointing me in the direction of your lovely blog.

  11. I can very much relate to this post because my Mom died in the very same way. We also lost her day by day, year by year. In some ways it made the day of her actually passing not as hard because she had long since left us before she died. But in other ways it made it much harder, because it's been hard to really remember how she was before her illness. Sometimes she will come to me in my dreams, the real Mom, the one who raised us, and then I get a glimpse of her, which is comforting.

    I don't think we ever recover from losing our Moms. There is no replacement. No one could ever fill her role.

    You and Jayden sure look like her. What a beautiful woman she was.

  12. Dear Miss Eileen,

    Through eyes blurred with tears, I say thank you for that precious story and remembrance and tribute to your mother... and to our Loving God!

    Hugs, Penny Sue

  13. Dear Eileen,
    Each time you write about your mom tears come to the surface...and that's because you express your heart so beautifully, and I am able to see into your mom's person, see her lovely qualities, as well as the love for her that you have cherished inside of you. I believe that it is because you have kept hope alive that she was able to say those last meaningful words to you. You are so right, she was never gone, just unable to express it, as she became more and more handicapped by the disease. I love those words, God's been good to me. It is the bottom line truth undergirding all of our lives!

    And I love what you shared about the transfiguration. Yes, sin disfigures us, but the Love and Forgiveness of Jesus transfigures us! Wow, I just love the way those two words contrast, by just a a change of prefixes!

    Happy Mom Memories to you, dear Eileen.