Thursday, January 31, 2013

Congratulations Due!

By Belinda

Congratulations to Sarah Bessey and her fabulous blog Emerging Mummy which won first place in the Best Weblog About Religion, Spirituality & Philosophy in the 2012 Ninjamatics Canadian Weblog Awards. I checked out her blog and was blown away by her writing and authenticity. Go Sarah!

Congratulations too, to my friend Dave Hingsburger, whose blog Rolling Around in My Head won first place in the Disability category. I never miss reading his blog, which challenges and inspires daily!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Forgiveness and Grace

By Belinda

Yesterday, reading my friend Dave's blog post: Too Late, Too Little, Too Much I found myself, as I often do, on my daily read at Rolling Around in My Head, with way too much to think about! I mean really, a blog post is a short thing; a thing to be read quickly; to be responded to with an equally quick comment. Only I couldn't be quick! I should know better visiting RAIMH! :)

No fair Dave; starting your post and my morning with such weighty questions; questions that demand thought--and an answer. You asked:

Can an apology be too late?
Can an apology ask too much? 

Questions like that deserve an answer and a very interesting discussion followed and is still going on in the comment section with so many thoughtful opinions on the subject.

I tried to join in but gave up. The question needed more than a "comment" from this quarter. So here I am, trying to put into words more coherently what think on the subject, with no promises that I will succeed.

 What I write has nothing to do with the specifics of the situation that sparked Dave's blog post. Only he owns that situation and his response. I am speaking only for myself and in a general way, about the questions he asked at the beginning.

I think that the answer to the first question is no, and to the second it is yes. (Funny, I only just knew that was what I thought, after I wrote most of this blog post.)

I came to the questions fresh from asking forgiveness and receiving someone's grace this week. "Grace" meaning that I got something I didn't deserve. The person who gave it, wiped away a tear as they gave it. Just bringing it up had reopened a place of pain that they had maybe not realized was still there, because I had (although unaware) caused someone to feel ashamed with my words some time ago. That fact makes me feel ashamed, as it should, and I was grateful to be able to apologize more fully than I had at the time it happened.

If I believe it can be too late, I'm sunk and so is the rest of the world. Forgiveness--getting it and giving it--is at the core of everything I believe. It is not as simple as it sounds though.

I say that I am sorry frequently. It isn't usually hard for me to admit when I discover I am at fault. It's something, ironically, that I have prided myself on. This is weirdly wrong and I know it, because I hate it when someone else points out that I'm wrong about something I haven't realized I'm wrong about yet. The walls of self justification go up soooo quickly, as if to look at myself as fallible threatens my existence!

The other thing I've learned is that the full awareness of my offence towards another is progressive. It can take a very long time before God is able to peel away my self protective shield and get down to the ugly truth of a matter. Until that happens, I am oblivious to the fact that I have not fully apologized. Maybe if I realized the full depths of my blundering (let me use the word that makes me uncomfortable--"sin") against another, immediately, every time it happens, I might live in despair and self loathing. God, who loves us fully and accepts us as we are, with all of our failures, but who also loves us too much to leave us there; takes his time; but I have found him relentless in pursuit of clear vision and Truth. And I am grateful.

What that means though, is that we can be evolving works in progress who are blind and pathetic in our attempts to take responsibility for our wrongs towards others. At least that describes me to a T. 

Is it ever too late, once the blinders begin to come off? Well, sometimes the person I have needed to ask forgiveness of was dead. I've done it anyway. I hoped that somehow the person knew that I finally saw far more clearly than I did back then,when I was up on a high horse of judgement and self righteousness and was as far from being a good example of a disciple of Jesus as anyone could be. It is a painful thing to see clearly how harsh and cold hearted you have been towards another, when you have no right because you are as  utterly human and full of failure as they are (or were)--but seeing it matters.

No, I don't think it can ever be too late to ask forgiveness, although I don't believe it always has to be done directly. I've done a lot of journalling and talking to God about situations I needed to confess and be forgiven for. But if God gave me the opportunity to do it directly, then I would take it, no question, and yes, it would be for the sake of my own soul and without expectation.

Can an apology ask too much? Yes, if it demands forgiveness by the other. An apology is a putting out there an admission of my responsibility for doing someone a wrong. When I do, I humanly hope that person will forgive me, but whether they do or not, my part is to say that I was wrong. 

I have had two big struggles in my life to do with forgiveness and neither one involved the other party directly:

One struggle concerned trying to forgive someone who had hurt me deeply. I just couldn't do it no matter how hard I tried. The hurt and anger were there and saying that I forgave the person didn't make them go away, even though I wanted to cooperate with God!

The other struggle was with guilt for an offence that I carried around like a lead weight and although logic told me that it didn't even belong to me, it clung to me like stinking graveclothes and it was a deep sadness inside.

Both of these situations were resolved in ways that are stories in themselves and their resolution and my subsequent freedom spiritually and emotionally, were gifts from God.

The struggle with guilt helped me to understand more fully than I ever would have done otherwise, exactly what the gospel means. There was a price to be paid for offence. That is justice. Guilt is carried until a price is paid. 

God loved the offender (that is, all of us,) so much that he could not bear for them to suffer the consequences of it, so he did the only thing someone who loves another as fully as he, could do, he came to earth in the form of the man Jesus, and although he lived a perfect life of love, compassion and goodness, he took the role of the offender and paid the price of utter and devastating responsibility for the sin of the world.

Isaiah 53:4-5

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.

I think I wandered a bit from Dave's true questions,  but I'm grateful for the prompt to think and write out my thoughts, in response.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By Belinda

By mid February 2004 I was already half way through the month I had come to spend in England. I had arrived with no plan but to get Mum's life back after finding her in hospital, depressed, and looking beaten at the start of the month. Within a week she was out of the hospital and home and we began recreating her world.

Each day Mum, Rob and I navigated new territory, trying new things on for size and discarding those that didn't work for Mum and Rob. I made many phone calls, making arrangements for house calls for foot care, glaucoma tests, meals on wheels and the hairdresser. All the world was willing to come to Mum it seemed.

Just as we began to feel less freaked out about our lives being invaded by the Helping Hands carers who supported Mum three times a day, Mum's social worker  reminded us that they were purchasing the services of Helping Hands only because there were no council carers available and that if that changed, they might switch back to the council carers. 

She seemed to feel badly telling us that. It was hard for us to contemplate saying goodbye to the people we were just beginning to feel comfortable with and who knew Mum now. I had worked so hard to ensure that Mum wasn't just a time slot they had to fill. It was so important that they know her abilities and the little things, that mattered to her in a big way.

I trusted God with the worry of this possible change, knowing that he had taken care of us this far. 

Mum, who was always a careful, strategic and creative thinker, managed to do more than I expected. I would go upstairs to brush my teeth and come down to find that she had turned off the light, her lamp and the electric blanket, turned back the bed covers and got into bed! She had a drive to do these things, although other things, such as making a cup of tea, she had lost all interest in doing. Fortunately Rob became a daily presence in a closer way, in Mum's life. He made sure that she was well supplied with cups of tea! Meanwhile, I struggled to fade into the background and not be overprotective, so that Mum could do what she was able to without me hovering!

One night I asked her, "Was it a good day today Mum?" and she said, "Yes, every day is a good day."

I met the first carer I worried about. I hoped that she would not be assigned to Mum too often. She was nice enough, but seemed very "slap-dash" and breezy. I wanted her to be careful and gentle and pay attention to what she was doing. I hoped that I would see her again just so that my mind would be at rest.

After a Sunday morning service at Alvechurch Baptist Church, when we had celebrated communion, one of the leaders asked me about some of the deacons coming to serve Mum communion. I could only think how wonderful it would be for her to be bound into the Body of her little church in this way.

A few days later the social worker called again to say that the government had a new initiative called direct funding. She had approached her supervisor with a suggestion that Mum was an ideal candidate. What it meant was that Mum would be given the funds assigned to her to purchase the support she needed. This meant that Mum could continue to have Helping Hands and not have to change to new carers from the council.

Mum's name was also now on a list of people waiting for more suitable housing and we heard that she was number seven on the list. The fact that Mum only wished to live in Alvechurch, we were told, would slow down her chances of getting housing quickly, but it mattered that she be where she belonged. 

As my time in Alvechurch drew to a close, Mum made her first visit to the Sycamore Club, a place she used to visit every Monday morning for tea, a chat with friends and lunch. I went with her, and enjoyed listening to the ladies, most of them  in their 80's chatting with one another. The lunch was a tasty beef stew with roast potatoes, cauliflower and peas, with apple cake and custard for desert (or "pudding" as it is called in England.) 

It was pleasant and comfortable sitting in the sun, and I fell into a snooze, listening to the drone of voices. All of the elderly people found that very amusing.

Our friends Chris and Eileen visited too. All of the pieces of life were fitting back together again. It felt so good to see Mum in the mainstream of life although it remained hard that it was so difficult for her to communicate. If she tried harder it just made it less easy to find the words she was looking for. I prayed that God would unlock her speech.

I prepared for my return to Canada with a sense of a mission accomplished. Even attending Mum's church had been strategic. No one knew how she was or where she was until then. She had vanished into the medical system and they had only heard limited information since mid September, the year before, when Mum had left for Canada. She never made it back to church when she came back as her leg was hot and reddened that first Sunday back and the doctor had told her to rest all weekend. I felt that I was there "for" her as well as for myself. I knew that I would bring her to the forefront of people's minds and caring by my presence; that I would make her "important" to them. The result was two bunches of flowers from the church soon after she arrived home; a visit from her old friend, Trudy, and communion being served to her at home; as well as hearing her name being lifted up in prayer in the church. 

Mum's friend Trudy assured me, "Don't worry, the church will look after your mum. We'll do our best." Then she told me that she wished she was 20 years younger because then she could do so much more--which was so funny, because that would have still made her 70!

To be continued...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

God's Sense of Humour

By Belinda

A post script to the story of Susan's scarf--if you click on the link to Port Soiree, the restaurant where she received the first of her three scarves, the theme song they have playing is Chris de Burgh's, Lady in Red! :)

Happy Sunday every one!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Secret Adventures of Susan's Scottish Scarf

By Belinda (with a lot of help from Susan :))

I was saying goodnight to her at the front door this week when she told me. There was apparently more to the scarf around her neck than I knew. 

The scarf had been a gift from me for Susan's birthday on Tuesday December 18th. It had been her 60th; and that day I had treated her to lunch to celebrate. 

We met at a tiny restaurant, Port Soiree, in Schomberg,near her office. It was a restaurant neither of us had been to before and it turned out to be a gem, with artsy ambiance, amazing food, wonderful service and modest pricing. In other words, it was perfect!

The gift I had bought for her was a scarf made from Royal Stewart tartan--her married name being Stewart. It is hard to find the perfect gift for someone of our age. Most of us are de-cluttering so do not need more nick-knacks, and we have more books on our bedside tables waiting to be read than we have years left to read them all in--you get the picture.

Stewart Royal Modern Shrink Effect ScarfWhen I saw the scarf in Burnett's and Struth, a store that sells Scottish regalia, in Barrie, I loved it. It was not a plain, ordinary tartan scarf, but funky enough to be the perfect fashion accessory for Susan, who looks lovely in anything red.
She seemed to love it too, and immediately took it out of its tissue wrapping and put it on. Since then I have rarely seen her without it and always notice how well it sets off whatever she is wearing. 

Susan, who tends towards losing car keys and almost anything else, patted it on Thursday night at cell group that week and said, "See, I haven't lost it yet!"  

I laughed and said, "Oh, no, don't lose that!"

Little did I know. And Susan has only just been able to bring herself to tell me the story.

On Wednesday, the day after our lunch, Susan had a work related doctor's appointment in downtown Toronto. It was an important appointment that she was stressed about. The journey took longer than anticipated and she arrived downtown late and began desperately searching for a parking spot, ending up in a parking garage--all a prescription, as she described it, for a "disaster of distraction."

It was on the way home that she realized that she no longer had the scarf. She felt SICK a) because she LOVED the scarf and DIDN'T want to lose it (she said that she doesn't have many things that she LOVES) and b) because she didn't want to have to tell me that she had LOST such a beautiful gift or want me to feel that she had dishonoured the gift.

Susan, who thinks best under pressure (which life gives her lots of practice at, :))began casting about for "a plan." 

"What to do? What to do?" Where would she get another scarf????

She called the doctor's office the next morning (hoping against hope.) No scarf.

She remembered that she had the tag and tore through the garbage in the car to find said tag, which read, Lochcarron of Scotland.

She Googled the website and found the scarf--in Scotland--but knew it would never get here in time for her to be wearing it to Thursday night cell group so that I would know how much she loved it. But she ordered it anyway, just in case.

Next, she Googled "Canadian distributers Lochcarron of Scotland" and found one in Barrie! "Oh, GLORY!!!! (WHAT JOY)" thought Susan. She drove up there on Thursday morning to get it! (Mission accomplished. And she walked into my house on Thursday evening and said, "Aren't you proud of me? I still haven't lost the scarf!"

She went back to the same doctor's office over a month later and asked in the coffee shop downstairs if they had found a scarf. The woman working in the coffee shop did not understand English well. Susan demonstrated, "Scarf," while waving the end of the one around her neck. A flash of recognition lit up the woman's face, and she reached beneath the counter. A wave of PURE JOY flooded over Susan as in the woman's hands she held out the scarf's twin--the original.

I'm so sorry for all the stress she went through.  I would have felt sorry that she had lost it for her own sake, but so glad she got it back and the story is too funny.

Scarf number three should arrive by mail soon.  Susan will not need to worry about scarves for a very long while!  :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

By Belinda

The continuing story of Mum...
Thursday, February 12, 2004

Two weeks since I arrived and one since Mum arrived back from the hospital in a pink cotton nightie, with a white hospital blanket around her to keep warm. What changes over two weeks! Good things have happened.

Tracy, who comes in the morning, is wonderful, and Karen, at night is equally wonderful. Today at lunch we met Julia, who I liked a lot!    
She'll be coming often at lunch and said that there will soon be a regular pattern at lunch as well as at other times of the day. Karen has actually asked to support Mum on Sunday mornings. What a blessing.

Mum's friend and close neighbour Trudy, came for a visit. It was so good for Mum to reconnect with dear Trudy, who is bright, energetic, and will be 90 on July 29th!

When I was in the bathroom this morning, Mum got up and opened the curtains. I think I worry too much. She can do so much...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

By Belinda

The next chapter in Mum's story:
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Two weeks since I left home already. I can't believe how fast time is going.
Mum continued to say how she didn't like, "the one who came yesterday" when I wasn't here, and no amount of my appealing for mercy for her helped. It's unlike Mum to take such an adamant stance against anyone. I'd hoped to meet her for myself  today, but it was another lady; Sandra; very nice. 
Uncle John was coming for lunch today at 11.00, so after Tracy, the morning Helping Hands lady left, Mum and I had a cup of tea and then I went to the village to buy some fresh cream cakes to go with lunch.
It was sunny and the birds were twittering, chirping and singing merrily. The walk to the village takes a brisk five minutes or so, but in that space of time you can meet several people who stop to ask about Mum. I love the village; it is a very special place.
On my way to buy milk I saw fresh strawberries and cream on sale and had to buy some. On my way to the bakery I passed The Flower Mill and had to turn back, drawn by a bunch of deep purple tulips that I thought would add a touch of spring to the house.
At the bakery I stopped to chat with Joan, who served me and who lives next door to Mum. She was anxious to know how she was.
I walked  home past gardens full of crocuses, snowdrops and the odd daffodil. 
Uncle John soon arrived and stayed for four hours, chatting about our mutual family news. We enjoyed a great feast of turkey and cheese sandwiches, strawberries and cream and cream cakes. The tulips did look lovely on the mantelpiece!
I am still really worried about Mum and whether my trying to help her develop a routine to put herself to bed is too risky. But the alternative is being tucked in at 8.30. I can't imagine Mum staying in bed, especially in summer when it would still be light!
Tonight when I prayed with her she said, "And you? How are you getting to bed? Through the window?" We just laugh together at those funny moments, but it makes me realize how vulnerable Mum is.
God has sent us two wonderful workers for the morning and night, and of course I still have the weekend folks to meet. The midday people are different every day so far, but we are getting used to each other and know what to expect and the sorts of ways they can help. I am so thankful to be here and thank you Lord, for this good day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

International Day of Mourning and Memory--Remembering Rainerchen

By Belinda

Today, in recognition of the International Day of Mourning and Memory I am re- posting a story that I didn't write, but heard during  Holocaust Education week this year. I am postponing the continuing story of Mum's stroke recovery for one day to remember a little boy who should have lived much longer than he did. His story should be told over and over. I am sorry that I'm posting late in the day!

                                 Remembering Rainerchen

I knew I had a brother who had died at the age of three. There were a few photos of him in the family album, a blond child sitting on my mother's knee. His name had been "Rainer," but on the rare occasions when she spoke of him, my mother always referred to him by the loving diminutive of "Rainerchen"--"small Rainer." My father never talked about him.

During my childhood, my mother was a lively, busy woman. She had to be. For much of the time (until I was almost eleven) we lived in rural Saskatchewan. Our first house had neither electricity nor running water, the second had electricity but still no running water, except what could be pumped up from the cistern under the kitchen floor. 

My mother took care of the children, cooked meals, baked bread, washed and hung clothes out to dry, tended a large vegetable garden and sewed most of our clothes. 

Usually she was in good spirits, although she would get irritable when she was overtired. But sometimes in the middle of an ordinary busy day, something would happen. It was as if a switch in her being had been clicked. Her face would become charged with emotion, her voice took on an edge and pitch that was quite different than her everyday speech. And her words would flow out in a short, intense outburst.

It was from one of these emotional outpourings that I first learned more than the bare fact that Rainerchen had lived and died. Some incidents cut deep memories. I know I was eight or nine at the time because this memory is clearly fixed in the kitchen of the house we lived in then. Mama is lighting the morning fire, taking wood from the full woodbox. I am peeling a mandarin, which means it must have been December. 

Mama begins to talk with that intense edge to her voice: "The time I went to get Rainerchen's body from the hospital, they told me to go to the back and pointed out a little building, and when I went in there, the corpses were stacked like logs."

When she was in her early seventies, encouraged by her children, she wrote a thirty page memoir. She wrote in German. Although she had lived in Canada since the age of 36, and was fluent in English, when it came to writing, German was the language in which she felt competent. Although the words in the passages that follow are mine, the family information is taken from my mother's memoir, with the historical context taken from standard historical secondary sources.

During her third pregnancy, my mother developed jaundice. She was hospitalized and a miscarriage was avoided. Later the birth was difficult. Once the birth was over, it seemed that all was well and mother and child were discharged from hospital in the usual way. The child's birth certificate stated that he was born on February 9th, 1940, in Danzig, and, using the deceitful Nazi terminology, that his ancestry was "pure Aryan." He looked the part. He had blond curls, blue eyes, fair skin, and "the face of an angel."

At six weeks, when my mother was changing him, he had a small seizure. It passed. But at the nine month medical check-up, when the doctor held out a pencil, little Rainerchen did not reach for it. My mother was told he was developing too slowly. All this was recorded in his medical file, according to the best medical practice. What had nothing to do with medical practice was the the Nazi state now took great interest in the physical fitness of its citizens.

The Nazi eugenics program had begun in October, 1939. All individuals who were deemed "unworthy of life" were to be "eliminated." The Nazi leadership felt that the general German public was not yet sufficiently "hardened" to be told openly of the program, although the massive death toll at state hospitals could not be entirely hidden. No public discussion of the program was allowed. The men and women who carried out the killings, from the SS officers who did the planning, to the ordinary doctors, nurses, and orderlies, were told that the killings were necessary because the unfit used up crucial resources like food and clothing that were needed in wartime for the fighting and productive members of German society and further that it was necessary to eliminate "inferior stock" which might carry birth defects that could contaminate the "blood of the Aryan master race."

In 1943, my parents received several notices to bring their son to a state hospital for treatment. They ignored the notices. So while my father was at work, my sister at school, my mother went to the market and Rainerchen at home with the mother's help girl, the authorities came to the apartment and took the child "for treatment." 

My father had contacts among those in Danzig who would speak critically of the Nazis to those they trusted. His contacts told him that if the child was from a poor workers' family the child would be put to death within a few days, but that since his family was well established, some show of treatment would be made. (I doubt if my father passed this information on to my mother until much later."

My mother was allowed to visit her little boy in the hospital a few times. On one occasion she found that his hands were deeply wrinkled, as if he had been immersed in water for a very long time. She always wondered if he had been the subject of an experiment.

A few weeks later, my parents received a telegram that their son Rainer Maria, born on February 9th, 1940, had died of "pneumonia." They had three days to pick up the body if they wished.

Deaths from "pneumonia" were extremely common at German hospitals at that time.

Post Script by Belinda: Typing out this story, the impact I felt when I first heard it hit me. I wish I could say that we have learned the lessons of history and that each human life has equal value now. That just isn't true...I pray that little Rainerchen's story serves as a grim warning of what can happen when the value of any is counted as less. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What a "Do" can Do

By Belinda

Continuing the adventure of Mum's new life from my journal...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Another busy day is past, but not as exhausting as yesterday. We already knew Tracy and Karen, at the morning and bedtime visits. I left a long note for the "lunchtime lady" whom I hadn't met, because I was away at that time at a funeral with our friends, Chris and Eileen.
Unfortunately Mum was not impressed with her and said that she was "rather inexperienced." Well, I will meet her tomorrow and we'll see. There were signs that Mum was right, but after all, this is the way "experience" is gained, so if I can help, I will.
Note: When Mum used the words "rather inexperienced," this was her communication of "something" but we didn't know exactly what. Her stroke had left her with aphasia, i.e. word finding difficulties. She knew what she wanted to say, but was no longer able to put together sentences to express herself, or to participate in a flowing conversation. But she still managed to express herself; sometimes by a comical facial expression that said more than words; a raised pair of eyebrows, the shrug of shoulders, or a grimace of disgust; and sometimes by just two words, such as "rather inexperienced," that told us everything we needed to know.

Tracy, whom we had seen two days in a row, was rather inexperienced, in fact. The day before when she showed up at Mum's house, it was her first ever day on a job she had never done before. The agency was new and she had not been trained. She didn't have a uniform or log book--nada! We were both newbies to this whole thing. But Mum would not have called her "rather inexperienced!" :)  

Back to the journal...
I got home in time to see Charlotte (the young hairdresser who was to do Mum's hair for the next 8 years every two weeks) pulling up in her car to do Mum's hair. When it was done, Mum looked lovely! So much more like her old self.
It was the day for people to leave things behind it seemed. The noon Helping Hands lady--the "inexperienced one," :) left behind a battered pair of sunglasses. Chris left behind his college scarf and Charlotte left behind her hairdryer. I made three phone calls to let the owners know that we were holding their belongings here!
Apart from the mid-day not feeling good to Mum, and her being a bit overwhelmed around tea time (supper time, I should say,) the day went well.
I am a bit worried about Mum at the end of the day actually putting herself to bed, but the alternative, going to bed at 8.00 p.m. isn't very good at all, so we will keep working at it.
Thank you Lord, for your presence and power.
More tomorrow!

Monday, January 21, 2013

More on Mum's Journey

By Belinda

I hope it's okay with you, dear readers, if my story about Mum has not flowed on a daily basis, but interspersed by other posts. I had to figure out how to transfer my old snapshots onto this laptop from "real" photos. I know--a "simple" process. It was, once I figured it out. Susan suggested scanning them, and that has worked! Much better than the laborious process I had in mind--photographing photos with a digital camera. I'm embarrassed at my lack of technical skills, but not my persistence. :) On with the story!

 Mum had arrived like a surprise package, wrapped in a pink hospital gown and white blanket, delivered by ambulance on a February Thursday--"home!!!"

By Monday it felt as though we had accomplished so much--getting little pieces of her life back, one by one. I had connected with the District Nurse--a potential lifeline in time of future need and Mum's hairdresser had an appointment to visit every two weeks. 

Monday was the day that the social worker had planned for Mum's "package of care" to begin; specifically, the three daily visits from carers who would help her through her morning routine and breakfast, be there to make lunch and again to help her get ready for bed. At the end of the day I wrote this:

Oh my goodness, what an exhausting day this has been, but we survived! 
We survived three total strangers, with three different personalities, entering the most intimate part of our lives, two of them seeing my mother naked within minutes of meeting her for the first time. I can hardly bear to think of it happening without me here.
Oh God, my heart feels so heavy. I want to care for her, to look after her, to protect her--to treat her with the dignity and gentleness she should have. 
Oh Lord, I'm grateful, please know that. I know that you do. Thank you for Tracy, Barbara and Karen. Thank you for the opportunity to meet them, get to know them, and the others who will assist Mum. Thank you that I can tell them what's important to Mum and coach them as to what she can do. 
They are on such a tight schedule and getting the job done quickly is necessary. They have to become expert at efficient use of time and I understand that. I am so grateful for the morning 45 minutes and the noon and evening 30 minutes. 
They have a lot to do in that time--that brief time. 
I managed to write out a step by step process for the evening. That was the easy routine, I thought. But it took me about an hour to get it right and in the right order. And even then, when Mum finally put herself to bed at 11 (I didn't want her to have to be "put to bed" at 8.30!) I realized that we hadn't factored in turning off the light! Back to the drawing board tomorrow to figure that out.
Well, tomorrow is another day and this was only our first day! And all of the ladies were lovely, caring and kind.

Mum was "back" and the journey had begun. I was so grateful--privileged, I knew, to be there, with her. I will be forever grateful God gave me that month with her.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on "the way back."