My mother had her 97th birthday a little over a month ago, although she doesn’t know it. In fact, Mother is aware of very little these days. She knows me most of the time, although she frequently can’t think of my name. Sometimes she thinks I’m her grandson or her father or brother, but usually she knows I’m her son.
Mother holding her 95th birthday cake
Mother lives in a small assisted living group home, along with four to six others, depending on how recently someone has died. She’s been there almost five years, and she’s been the oldest resident almost the whole time.
There was a lady there a couple of years ago who died a couple of weeks before her 100th birthday. She retired from cutting hair at age 90.
Mother retired over 30 years ago from her career as a social worker. That career was a natural for her, since she’s always wanted to help anyone around who needed anything. Until her 90s, she was always the one who jumped up to wait on everyone and never asked anyone to do for her.
She quit walking shortly after she moved into this home five years ago. Now she can’t even stand with someone helping to hold her up. They have to lift her in and out of her wheelchair—not too difficult, since she probably doesn’t weigh 100 pounds these days.
Sometime in the last few months, Mother pretty well quit eating. She chews her food for awhile and then spits it back onto her plate. I know, not very appetizing. She makes exceptions for cookies, ice cream, and such. She’ll swallow them.
Her memory is non-existent. When she asks a question, she may remember the answer for two or three minutes, or she may ask the same question again as soon as you finish answering.
It’s funny what she does remember, though. She remembers Jesus. Can’t recall her mother or father or much else, but she remembers Jesus. If you ask her about her health, she’ll tell you Jesus gave her good health. She’s not in doubt about her source.
She spends her waking hours sitting in a chair, quietly singing “Jesus Loves Me” or “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” It might drive you up the wall to hear her sing those same two songs time after time, all day long.
For awhile it bothered me, and then I began to see God’s grace in her singing. She is reaffirming the importance of God in her life. She’s announcing to the world that, although she may not remember anyone or anything else, she remembers Jesus. Maybe He’s also reminding us He hasn’t forgotten her. He knows exactly where she is and will one day escort her to her place in heaven.
That’s a comforting thought to me. I know that regardless of all else, she knows who she is as a child of God. She knows Jesus is her Savior and that He is always with her. What a wonderful thing for her to keep on her mind.
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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