Last night Momma sat at her end of our kitchen table smiling. Seated around our table were some pretty special dinner guests: my girlhood pastor and his wife, Ed and Diane Fuller, and their son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Dianne Fuller.
I told Momma about the visit shortly after she awoke in the morning. It’s funny how certain future events linger in the mind of a person experiencing significant short-term memory loss, yet other things slip right through like sand through a chicken wire sieve. Momma would never remember what was on our agenda on any particular day, but she lived all of yesterday watching out the window in anticipation of the arrival of our guests. She talked about their visit, quizzed herself on their names, wanted to make sure we had enough food (even volunteered not to eat if we didn’t have enough), wanted to help set the table, made her bed up neatly and kept tidying up my stuff (even while I was still using it).
God has been encouraging me in various ways to begin exercising hospitality once again. It had long been a favorite ministry for me, but has largely moved to the back burner in these years that I have been caring for my mother. But, today I dusted off my trusty recipe box, picked out a few favorites, and spent the better portion of the day cooking to my heart’s content. Seeing the joy on my mother’s face and her great anticipation of our guests’ arrival was a great reminder of why the ministry of hospitality is so important – even at this incredibly crazy stage of life.
Momma was waiting at the window when our guests arrived. After a flurry of warm hugs, we each took a seat at the kitchen table and gave thanks for the meal that I had prepared and the time we had together. Oftentimes Momma couldn’t hear the table-talk, due to her significant deafness, but her contented face clearly reflected a heart basking in the warm glow of fellowship. She had a tough time contributing to the conversation, often speaking off topic, but my own heart was warmed as I heard her retell stories of God’s faithfulness in her life.
Alzheimer’s has stolen the “social” part of Momma’s brain. My mom no longer has a desire to leave our house. No more going out to eat. No more appointments to get her hair done. No more traveling to visit family. No more shopping trips. Sadly, there is also no joy left for her in going to church – a place that has for many years been near and dear to her heart.
Last night’s dinner reminded me that worship doesn’t always take place on Sundays seated in a pew in a sanctuary, and the “church” doesn’t just gather in the building on Main Street. The “Church” was gathered as seven believers clasped hands together around our kitchen table to lift up the Name of Jesus and mutually edify one another. Worship of our great Savior took place as we reminded each other how our good and gracious God has been at work in our lives…even in the hard times of life.
We took this picture of my dear Momma with our special friends. I will make a copy of it for her so that she will have another story to tell to future guests who gather around our table for a little visit. I can’t say for sure, but I strongly suspect that someday my family may need to find little ways to remind me of God’s goodness. But, as I slipped my weary self neath the covers of my bed, the memory of our sweet time of worship together around the kitchen table lingered on my heart; the only reminder I needed of God’s goodness as I drifted off in peaceful sleep.