It all began with a rock…a nondescript stone wedged under a gnarly root along a duck trail. She was pushing her mother in her wheelchair for a bit of fresh air, to break the routine of indoor apartment living. The sunlight glinted on the smooth stone surface and lit up the childish scrawl sharpied across the surface: “God is my Rock”. It wasn’t painted prettily like the other rocks strewn along the path. Even so, it drew her eye, and she reached down, picked it up, and placed it in her mother’s hand. “There you go, trail treasure for the day!”
The rock lay for months on the old woman’s table by the bed. People popped in to visit. Surely they couldn’t help but notice her declining cognition and her increasing fear. She was less and less in the present and more and more in the past. She described her dementia frustrations as “black holes in my brain”.
One daughter thought she would do a gentle little recall – she read some key passages in the Psalms that reinforced God with the metaphor of a rock who gives us a firm foundation for whatever we do: Psalm 18:2 -My God is my Rock in whom I take refuge; Psalm 31:2 Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.; Psalm 71:3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.
Another granddaughter reminded her of God’s unchanging faithfulness, but, really, there was not much response, though the old woman’s eyes did glance to the rock on her tabletop. (You must know she was not given to discuss spiritual things.) Well, the year progressed and so too did the dementia, until she was hospitalized with pneumonia and delirium. Because of public health restrictions, there was no visiting for one week, until a compassionate nurse allowed end-of-life entry to two daughters. The time was brief, but the Holy Spirit orchestrated it mercifully. After messages of love were given, one daughter leaned closer in to whisper, “Remember, Mom, God is my Rock…and in a surprisingly clear voice, the old woman opened her eyes and responded “God is my Refuge”. And, really, that was the last conscious and expressed sentence that she made. 5 days later she left this world.
What a message of comfort for the family…and what a gift from the Holy Spirit as the daughters heard her affirm her faith journey and her trust in God.
“I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge, my God, in whom I trust” Psalm 91:2