Advent devotion: Memory care
Alzheimer’s disease has a storied history in my family. My mom’s dad and a few of her uncles suffered from it, and in some ways, I’m very fortunate that I missed exposure to their suffering. It is a terrible disease, as it slowly robs us of our loved ones before our very eyes, meaning that we have to grieve constantly as they decline, which can often take years.
My mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease several years ago, and I moved here in December of 2013, wanting to get as much time with her as possible. Thankfully I’ve been able to make it up to Rockford about once a month. A few weeks ago, my father made the decision to move my mom into a full-time memory care unit. This was very difficult for dad, and he consulted with many experts, family members, and friends before he arrived at his decision. It’s hard for a variety of reasons, from the financial aspect to the fact that he now only sees her for a few hours a day instead of having her at home.
As I reflect on this situation, it’s very easy to become caught up in the sorrows of everything happening, letting the darkness set in. In many ways, it’s a time of great sadness for us as a family. If I’ve learned anything from all my time at church and following Christ, it’s that God is always with us, helping light shine through darkness. For my dad, he can simply be a husband again, instead of a full-time caregiver. I’ve gotten to spend quality time with my parents, making the move here incredibly worthwhile. Even in her declining state, mom is still incredibly faithful and happy, talking about God and prayer constantly.
We can’t always have things go how we want them to, and sometimes things are simply out of our control. What we must never forget though is that God is always with us, and sending Jesus to walk alongside us as we navigate through the darkness into the light.
Brett Hagen works in IT. He lives in Davenport.