Nancy Reagan said it best: Facing dementia and Alzheimer’s with someone you love is like a “long goodbye.”
In December 2019 and through 2020, my life has been rocked. My faith was tested and tried by events not on my radar. Through it all I’ve been reminded that when I choose to put my faith and trust in God’s goodness, love, and omnipotence, He gives me strength and grace to navigate safely.
Like a newborn baby totally dependent on its mother, when I cry out to God and stretch up my arms to Him in faith, He picks me up, nourishes me and surrounds me with His arms of love.
On June 15, 2020, I watched my dad take his final earthly breath.
The essence of my dad’s wisdom and physical functioning are no longer. I love him; I miss him. He was a strong, successful, compassionate, sincere, steady and confident man.
My dad proved to be a respected leader working for the government then retired as a GS-15 from TACOM in Warren, Michigan. Shortly after retiring, my parents moved to Greenville, South Carolina.
My dad was a thoughtful man of integrity, living out a life of unconditional love with a servant’s heart. He read and meditated on the Scriptures daily. He instilled to our family the importance of reading from the book of Proverbs each day for wisdom, and a Psalm a day for a renewed heart.
There was constant joy in his life for Jesus, my mom, and for others.
My sisters and I watched closely and have chosen to live by these traits. He was a faithful man to the local church through attendance and involvement. A man who would sing the loudest in church but was never on pitch.
When COVID hit U.S. soil, my dad was considered “high risk.” I knew his health was declining and I wanted to be close to my parents in South Carolina. Sadly, there were certain restrictions that would hinder that desire. I was able to live with my uncle at his lake house in Tennessee where I worked remotely for 11 weeks. It was better to be three hours away than 13.
Some restrictions were lifted on Mother’s Day weekend so I drove to spend that week with my parents. I observed what I had always known: the unconditional love my parents had for one another.
There were hard moments watching my mom take care of the shell of his body day after day while his brain was slowly dying from Alzheimer’s. We have been on this path for over four years.
Although the road had been rocky and steep, I can honestly say God continually sent peace, calmness, quietness, and affirmations through His Scriptures to show me He cares.
On Friday afternoon, December 6, 2019, I was sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale airport with friends. We just returned from a three-day cruise to the Bahamas and were waiting for our flight home to Detroit. While in the terminal, I received a text from my mom to call her. For the next 45 minutes I paced the terminal listening about the return of my dad’s cancer.
Because of Alzheimer’s, they could not do surgery but were looking for alternative treatments. After the update I asked to talk with him.
“His voice is weakening, Phil.” Mom said. “I can put you on speaker, but he may not be able to verbally respond.”
One moment I am having an amazing time with wonderful friends, and the next moment I find out the most amazing dad and my hero could no longer speak to his son. For the next several minutes tears filled my eyes.
“I love you dad.’ I told him. “God is great and God is good, and I thank Him for you.”
I shared with my parents once again how thankful and happy I am that God would bring such wonderful Christian friends into my life and how two of us were looking forward to seeing them in a month. My mom stated that dad gave a thumbs up with a huge smile on his face.
Through the wide range of emotions on December 6 and 7, working through layers of grief in a healthy way and working through each trial since then (some with zero explanation), I’ve cried out to God and He continues to work in me through the Scriptures. God answers the “How could you let this happen to me and why?” question.
Only through God’s Word does He remind me of God’s precious thoughts and promises:
- “Cry unto me” – Psalm 34:4; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 77:1
- “Rest in me” – Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 4:8; Psalm 23; Psalm 37; Psalm 34:18
- “I am near the brokenhearted” – Psalm 46:10; Psalm 147:3
- “Be still and know that I am God.” – John 14:27-29; Exodus 14:14; Psalm 37:7
- “Peace I leave with you.” – John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 15:13; Isaiah 26:3
God is truly good!
He is a good God who chips away a heart of stone (Ephesians 4:18; Proverbs 28:13-14).
He works miracles of what we believe is impossible (Luke 18:27; Matthew 19:26; Ephesians 3:20).
He restores (Psalm 51:12; Hosea 6:1) and we choose to draw back (James 4:8) to His loving and secure arms through times of trials and grief.
Satan knows no good.
He seeks out to destroy all good including healthy vertical (God) and horizontal (people) relationships (First Peter 5:8).
He is the father of confusion, deception, assumptions, gossip and lies (John 8:44).
He is the author of sin, sickness, sorrow, doubt, hatred and death.
Satan gets his foot in the door of our imaginations and thoughts then wants us to believe bad things happen because God is not good, but the truth is because Satan is evil.
God created the world and mankind to be beautiful, to have order, and to live in harmony.
It has been a difficult year for all of us.
Though we don’t understand the “why,” we should focus on the “what.”
What does the Lord want us to be reminded of? What is He teaching us? The answers are clear through the preciousness of Scriptures.
My friend, God is a faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9) whose mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
His grace is sufficient ( 2 Corinthians 12:9).
His love is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3).
Through these promises, we have a renewed hope (Isaiah 40:31).
You are loved.
If you or someone you love is experience grief right now, learn about our GriefShare program at Shepherd’s Gate Church. If you have something you would like us to pray over, please contact us or submit your requests.