Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals. It’s a modern day commentary on: family, peer pressure, truth telling, rejection, fatherlessness, and well so many other things.
A few days ago I was working on the church’s prophecy board (more on that another time) when I just felt I had to listen to the music from the musical again. I knew as I did, it was God telling me He was going to reveal emotions I was not being honest about.
So many of the songs resonate with me even as a pastor/prophet. This time, though, the songs that hit me hard were “So Big So Small” and “Does Anybody Have a Map”, which are the mother’s songs from the musical.
In the middle of both songs I began to cry. SUPER UNEXPECTED! I actually closed up shop and went home because I couldn’t take it anymore and I couldn’t figure out why. The next day I told Amanda about it and then I played the songs again for her and… Yep!…. You guessed it. I started crying again. I realized I had work to do.
I have spent many hours in prayer over this and I think I have a bit of revelation. I am relating with this lady…not because my son is in trouble but because Brenda, Amanda and I are becoming parents by increments to my mom.
It has hit me that Brenda will soon be heading back to her mission, I think I am afraid of this. When Brenda goes back to The Netherlands I will be a “single parent” : I will make the meals. I will pay the bills. I will make sure Mom takes her showers. I will do the doctors and the dentist appointments. I will do the laundry and…. and….and….and … this house seems so big and I feel so small.
AMANDA WRITES…Well, while half of the Vicarage is in Florida enjoying Disney the Eldest and youngest of the Vicarage are left to guard the home front. This is quite the change for Grandma as she doesn’t see me as an adult quite yet. Just last month she started to allow me to wash the dinner dishes! With that being said, Dad asked me, what were the easiest and hardest things about being left alone with Grandma for a week.
The easiest thing is listening to her stories from her childhood and learning how my dad grew up. The first day dad left she was missing her kids, and she took out photos I had never seen before and with each photo she showed me she was able to tell me all the details of that time. Having these memories and moments are precious and I don’t take them for granted.
The hardest thing is the questions. As grandma grows older her memory is not what it once was. In the evenings we sit together and talk and she asks the same questions over and over. “when’s your father coming home?” “Is Brenda coming home at the same time?” “Have you walked the dogs yet?” “Where’s your cat?” While these questions aren’t hard to answer it’s the repetitiveness and the realization of what is slowly being taken away from her that is hard and frustrating.
J. WRITES… Thank you Amanda for giving us this time.
Here is Brenda’s answer to the question…What was your favorite book?
My favorite book?
Oh boy, even now that is a tough question…
I am not an avid reader like the rest of my family, and I remember that being very frustrating for my Mom and Dad and Brother. I still hear the command ringing out when ever I wanted to play or do SOMETHING….”Why don’t you go read a book.”?
UGGG. I just wanted to play! But every night my mom and dad would try to read to me at bed time. My favorite book was actually a poem my dad would act out for us at night calle GIANT THUNDER BONES! After that it was a 2 sided book with Peter Pan on one side and Alice and wonderland on the other…but I liked Peter Pan the best…more action…although Alice drinking those potions and going through those doors…into that magical land and the Chesire Cat….loved that.But when I just wasn’t in the mood for any of that…My Dad could tell I needed visual stimulous for story telling time as well as voices. So he bought me an MC ESCHER picture book, and would make up stories based on the picture I would choose. But if you know 4 yearolds you know they like repition, so I always went back to my favorite picture…Topsy Turvy. Love that piece to this day, and the sotries Dad would make up….PURE MAGIC.
Brenda was away at a conference in New York until Thursday. Friday was her preparation day for a full day of teaching at a woman’s conference in Framingham MA. Saturday was the women’s conference.
Today Brenda spent the morning repacking her car and getting ready for the next conference in Rhode Island. She is expected at hat venue by 3 P.M. She also took a few moments to send me her thoughts on the introduction to our artistic reboot.
Brenda says…I want us to share the excitement about what we are about to embark on. I see this as a journey of rediscovery…and releasing.
I underlined a lot in the introduction. There were many gems, but the three that stood out to me.
1. Artists don’t retire. It is so true. And a caviate is that every person has an artistic nature inside of them….I have been watching as Mom has been doing her intricate colorings in her adult coloring books. She is very careful about the colors she chooses for each section, and careful to stay in the lines. Her color choices are amazing. I have noted after coloring her brain is more alert and she is more interested in the life going on around her. So in the midst of the throws of Dementia…this part of her has not been stolen from her.
2. FAST is not what we are after. This was regarding hand writing our 3 pages daily.*** Part of the reboot requires that we handwrite three pages stream of thought as soon as we get up each morning***. This time of rediscovery, and releasing and raising the curtain on ACT 2 of our lives, must be done with care and leisure. RUSH AND HURRY which win the daily grind, will never help us raise the curtain on ACT 2. We must be willing to slow down, and see what is brought to us, and embrace the moment for all its fullness. and finally…
3. EVERY LIFE IS FASCINATING-HONOR THE LIFE YOU HAVE LED. Hearing someone downplay their life as uninteresting or of little import is disheartening. People and the lives they lead fascinate me. If I am honest it enfuriates me when people belittle the importance of their lives. In the end if we step back we see a glorious work of art called LIFE. In the end we must step back and be thankful for the lives we have led and the impact we have been able to make, and for the people who have left their indellible marks on our life…and move on to Act 2 with grateful grace-filled hearts.
For me I think this journey, will bring some sense of peace to the chaos, some sense of release and relief from the past, and will allow me to embrace and be fully present to take hold of the new things coming in Act 2.
After Brenda wrote these thoughts she finished packing. Amanda met her as soon as her responsibilities here at Cornerstone were finished. Now they are on the road to Rhode Island for the Southern New England Network Conference. I am staying home with Mom tonight and will meet them for a few hours tomorrow in the afternoon.
Here in America, we are celebrating Mother’s Day. We have two Moms to celebrate today.
This is Melanie’s first Mother’s Day. Since she lives an hour away and since church and lunch for Mom will keep my day pretty busy through day’s end, I will not get a chance to see her until my day off tomorrow (weekends are not weekends for pastor’s they are more like Thursdays and Fridays). I am looking forward to spending time with Melanie, her husband James and my granddaughter Dani.
Mom does not go out anymore. I don’t mean by that, she is a happy homebody. I mean she doesn’t like to go out on the front porch for more than a few minutes. Getting her to sit on the lawn for a midsummer’s picnic is major event and going to the doctor is something we have to begin talking her into two weeks in advance. So for us Mother’s Day is going to be low key.
I remember my grandmother (Mom’s mom) went through this as her mind weakened in her later years. I am watching as my aunts go through this same thing and as my cousins fight to keep their moms from becoming total recluses. It is one of the many facets of this disease that is very hard to watch…the disconnection from the world.
Part of working through this process of slow loss is in embracing what is in the moment and making that special. We may not be able to take Mom out for dinner or to the beach or on any other family outing but that doesn’t mean we cannot celebrate. Brenda, Amanda and I have decided, we will bring in Chinese food and then later go pick up Sundaes from the local ice cream stand she loves so much and bring them home. If it stops raining I may even get outside and get some more of the yard done so that even if she will not go out and sit in it she can view it from the window.
Our family is one of the many coming to terms with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is not the easiest of walks but we are blessed to have Mom with us for this year long experiment of complicated living.