Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oh let's be honest

Elderly parents are annoying.

Elderly parents who were abusive, even though the abuse is a long time in the past, are annoying in a more complicated way.

So today I went and spent a few hours singing hymns to my mother.  My goodness, I'm a lovely human being.  Visiting my bedridden mother, feeding her lunch, singing hymns to her while she drifts off to sleep.

That's only part of the story.  Let me first address the "abusive" bit.  My mother had a ferociously bad temper, and a raging insecurity problem. We were - well, children.  This was not always a good mix.  HOWEVER.  I do not remember the last time my mother yelled at me.  She is the strongest testimony to the transforming power of God in a person's life that I have ever met.

Still.  There are days when I react strongly against doing things for her, especially nurturing things.  Today I went to the nursing home because I needed to bring her Kleenex, and I happened to arrive at lunch time, so it was only natural that I feed her.  And I was being a jerk. 

"Why haven't you knit me a dolly yet?" she wanted to know.

"Because you don't deserve one", I actually said out loud.  And then I said "I'm sorry, I'm being a jerk.  Why do you want one?"

"So I can hang it on my wall and everyone will know you knit something for me."

Right, I thought, let's keep up appearances.  But I didn't say anything out loud and I kept feeding her and I knew, I knew, I knew, if I didn't turn things around she'd have hurt feelings for days, and both of us would be unhappy.

So, in an effort to stop talking and saying every rude thing that popped into my head, I got out the hymnbook and started to sing hymns,  And the beautiful thing about singing those old hymns, the songs that remind me of the small town churches of my childhood and the questions and answers swirling around in my head as I grew into faith, is that they calm us both.  My mother stops being fractious and itchy, and my anger fades away.  I put my feet up on the bed, and asked her to put her hand on my leg. 

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it feels like we're cuddling." I told her, and I wish I could show the smile that spread across her face when she realized that not only was I asking for nurturing, but she was able to give it to me.

It's still true that elderly people are annoying, and grown up kids can be just as annoying, but the best bit?

God is bigger than all of that.

1 comment:

Adriene J said...

I am wondering how much longer my father will know me. How hard it is for me to watch him slowly slip away.