As I take care of Momma, the familial aspect of Alzheimer’s disease sometimes scares me. That fear isn’t all bad, in that it helps me realize that it is true that my lifetime is just a “few handbreadths,” a “mere vapor” that will pass before I know it. What I do with my days really does matter.
“O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah”
Psalm 39:4-5 (ESV)
This life that I am living now is being watched. One of those observers in this particular handbreadth of my life is my oldest grandchild. Much to the delight of Grandma Cindie, Violet and her family live just a few miles away (I know, I’m a blessed granny). Ever since she was a babe, getting to spend time with her has brought me great joy. When she was a toddler, I loved her little mommy-assisted phone calls asking, “Whatchadoing, Grandma?” These cute chats usually resulted in her inviting herself over to spend the day with me. Even now, as a 13-year-old young lady, my plans for the day can change with just one text from her.
Violet knows I am rather preoccupied these days with caring for my mother – her great-grandmother. While we can no longer just drop everything and do stuff together, she and her family often come over to help and visit – a welcome distraction from the sometimes overwhelmingly lonely aspects of being an in-home family caregiver.
During great-grandma’s frequent catnaps, Violet likes to help weed my garden. I love working alongside her and just chatting. One day, in the middle of one terribly weedy flowerbed, she stopped pulling weeds and gave me a big smile. I returned her smile with a quizzical look. She said, “I just love that you can be in your garden again. I know it makes you happy.”
Later that same day, she gently tapped on a faded scar I have on my elbow and said, “I just love this scar.” I think I gave her the same quizzical look I had given her earlier in the garden, then she added, “I love it because you got it from the thorns of a rose bush. You got hurt doing something you love.” I didn’t even remember telling her how I got the scar. But, she was very clearly paying attention.
And that’s the point of today’s little rambling. My grandchildren are watching as I take care of their great-grandmother. Whether I realize it or not, I am teaching them what it means to honor your parents and am demonstrating my faith in Jesus by my actions.
Violet usually sits next to me in church. About a year ago, I noticed her making similar notations and marks in her Bible as I make in my own. It was a sweet moment that made the role of grandma even more special as it reminded me how much I’m being observed. Just recently, Violet told me that her parents were purchasing a new Bible for her and that she couldn’t wait to show it to me. Imagine the impact of seeing that Jason and Beth bought her a Bible just like mine – one that has plenty of space in the margin for taking notes.
Yesterday I received a text from Violet. It was one that will likely remain etched in my heart forever. She told me she wanted to have a Bible study with me – “even if it’s just me and you.”
I’ll give you one guess as to what I said to that opportunity!