Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Light at the End of the Tunnel (01/23/14)
TITLE: After Darkness, LIGHT!
By Ruth Tredway
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Ralph was the first to go. He had chosen us as his family when he married my mother, Evie. His path led through cancer, and long-term care. I was well into adult responsibilities at that time, but I remember him fondly. Mother has not had an easy life. He talked incessantly, but he cared for her, treasured her. At his death, she said he was the kindest man she had ever known. I'm grateful that he was a part of our family.
Bob's passing was gentle, in his sleep. It was comforting. Most family members had visited recently. There were few regrets, many fond memories for the way my father-in-law had lived his life. Toward the end, he was confined to his bed. He still told the same stories of his youth and his ornery brothers, but now the details of the stories were becoming mixed, so that one story sounded much like another. He didn't need to be accurate, he just needed to have an audience.
Marjorie, his wife, is another story altogether. She still lives in body, but her mind is locked inside the prison walls of Alzheimer's. She's been right all of her life. If in doubt, just ask her. I don't remember her ever admitting to a mistake, unless she could place blame elsewhere. It no longer matters if she is right or not, because she cannot express her thoughts. Her comments reflect the common social dialogue of an earlier time in her life. Even her loved ones are on the outside, only allowed short glimpses of the vibrant red-head of former years. She's still right, but she doesn't know it anymore. She lives in a dark, closed space, only invaded by those who care for, feed her, bring her medications.
Amanda's life choices made her my step-mother. At one time, she had three teen girls in her home, a responsibility she did not want. Her dislike was obvious, tangible. It was a classic story of step-children vs. natural born children, as old as Abraham and Sarah. It was a short period of time in our lives, a critical time. I needed the counsel of an older woman, and for that, she was a blessing. It was also during that time period that she turned from an empty religion to a living relationship with her Lord. She suffered from diabetes in later years, and many related medical issues. It was a blessing when she was released from the body.
Evie and Will were once married to each other, for only a few years. Long enough to produce four children. Now they live in separate states.
Evie will soon enter long-term care, when a room becomes available. She grows more child-like daily, weekly. She remembers more negative than positive; she has a lot of regret. Her faith has remained immature, untested. But she has learned to appreciate her children, and to trust herself to the care of others.
Will is the last one of our collection of parents. He has always expected obedience. We were afraid to do anything else! He once extracted a promise from his children that he would never, ever, under any circumstances, be placed in a care facility.
We would honor that promise, if we could. When the housekeeper came one day, he was on the floor, unconscious, in night clothes. After more than a week in the hospital, he has been moved to a facility for rehab, to regain strength. But his medical team doesn't think he should live alone again.
All of these precious people have trusted in the Light of Life. Each has walked, or is walking, that dark place of limitations, of shadows we call old age. When they are gone, it will eventually be my turn. And, at the end of darkness, whether brief or long, we will all meet again, in that place where the Son is the Light. That is my hope, my comfort, my assurance.
Ps 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
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