Thursday, July 26, 2012


For Thou art my hope; O Lord God -
Thou art my confidence from my youth.
. . . I will hope continually,
And will praise Thee yet more and more.
(Psalm 71: 5 & 14)

As I took the shirt out from the laundry, the words written across the front seemed to jump out at me. “Hope” was written in large lettering across the top. “Support Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness” was written in smaller letters underneath. As I held the shirt in front of me, a soft whisper seemed to come from my lips - “Lord, is there any hope?” . . .

. . . I will hope continually, . . .

Maybe it was because I had been sick for the past week, maybe it was because bills seemed a little higher, or maybe it was just because the visit with my mom had made me sad - but “hope” seemed a little further away than usual.

I had spent years hoping - praying - for things that seemed almost impossible. I had witnessed miracles in my life - and yet, right now, I was having such a hard time! Why? As I thought about all of these things, time seemed to slip away - - - and memories came flooding back . . .

For Thou art my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, . . .
For Thou art my hope;
(Psalm 71: 3 - 5)

My mom was standing next to me, holding my little baby daughter. We had just walked into the hospital, and I had pointed out my doctor to her. Without a second thought, my mom walked right up to him. “Thank you for helping my daughter, and for this little girl” she said to him. I stood there looking at them, and at my beautiful daughter. I knew she was a miracle. Then I looked back at the doctor and smiled. “This is my daughter” I told him. He looked at the baby and smiled at me. “I am so happy for you.” he said. Then he turned back into his office, heading for his next appointment.

Thinking about that moment, I have to smile. You see, after having my son, I wanted to have another baby. But that just didn’t happen. My body was having problems, and after a few years, I had been sent to an endocrine specialist. He was the kind, gentle man that my mom had just met. He was a teaching doctor, and at every appointment I would meet another of his students. He did tests and blood work, and soon he found out what was wrong with me. He put me on medicine to help my pituitary work. But at the time, I was told “not” to get pregnant while on the medicine. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I told him I would be careful. Well - a few months later, I found out that I was pregnant. At that appointment, I remember one of the student doctors standing in front of me. He was telling me all about genetic specialists and the choices in front of me. I remember looking over at my doctor, who was sitting behind his desk, and shaking my head- trying to say “no” as tears streamed down my face. At that moment, my doctor looked at me and said - “so, you are going to have a baby”. As he said it, I just nodded yes - trying to wipe my tears away. He smiled at me, walked around the student doctor, and patted my back. Then, he told me to come back after I delivered my baby. I told him I would do that - and I did. I brought along my mom, and my new baby daughter to meet him . . .

As the memory drifted away, others seemed to take it’s place. They were memories of moments in time when I was so sure that things were never going to work out. And yet - - - they did.

I saw the old green house where Jenny and I lived for three years. I had heard about the house from a dear friend. She had told me that her grandparents were looking for a tenant for their rental house. They lived next door to it, and they needed someone to move in right away. I remember standing in the living room with them, wondering how I would be able to pay for the rent and live in this house. But as I stood there, the presence of the Lord surrounded me. I had goosebumps all over me, and so I turned to the couple and told them I would like to live there. I wasn’t the only one who had doubts that day, I could see it in their eyes - they wondered how a single mom, with no furniture, was going to be able to make it. But we did! It became a “home” for me and my daughter. It was a house filled with laughter and love, and I can’t help but smile as the memory filled my being.

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God,
Thou art my confidence from my youth.
By Thee - I have been sustained from my birth; . . .
(Psalm 71: 5 & 6)

“Hope” - it is funny how easy it is to lose hope - when things seem their lowest.

There is a group of pictures I have saved on my computer, that I named “Dad’s last pictures”. He took them when he was at the cape, two weeks before he died. Dad wanted to leave the nursing home where he had been staying for months. He wanted to be with my mom. But my mom had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She wasn’t able to make good choices, or even drive. My brother Wayne offered to take my parents to his home on Cape Cod. So somehow, we got dad released and mom packed - and Wayne was able to drive them to his home.

It didn’t take more than a day or two for my brother to realize how sick our dad really was. He called and told me that he would sit up at night with my dad, wondering if this would be his last night on earth. My dad was in terrible pain, and he needed more care than my brother and his wife could offer. I have to admit, I was shaking as I called the first nursing home I could think of - the one where my mom used to work. I needed a miracle, and I needed it right away.

For Thou art my hope; - - - O Lord God,

The nursing home could take my dad - and my mom - in two days! There was paperwork that needed to be done - nurses that had to visit my dad and mom at my brother’s house - all kinds of things that seemed impossible to get done in such short notice! But it all came together, and the nursing home was ready for my parents on Sunday. So it was that Saturday, that my brother took my mom and dad for a drive around the cape. My dad was sitting in the front seat with his camera, and my mom was in the back seat with my sister-in-law and my niece. They visited the shoreline, a lighthouse, and so many beautiful places. My brother took a picture of my dad sitting in the car - it is the last picture of my dad alive.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

To this day, I remember the moment when I told my dad that we would take care of mom. He had slipped into a coma, but his body seemed to keep up a struggle to live. As I held his hand that day, I whispered into his ear. “We’ll take care of mom - I promise”. Dad seemed to relax a little bit, as I continued to hold his hand. As someone took my place beside my dad, I left the room to call my brother Wayne. I remember telling him he needed to get to the nursing home as soon as possible. As I turned to walk back into the room, my dad had already gone . . .

Months passed before I even looked at the camera that my dad had used that day at the Cape. They were months filled with turmoil and heartache. My brothers and I had tried to care for our mom, as we buried our dad. Mom was now living at the same nursing home, and I wondered if I had failed at the promise I had made to my dad. As I put the digital chip into my computer, the pictures filled my screen. They were pictures of sailboats on the water, beaches filled with seagulls, and a lighthouse that was so beautiful in the fall surroundings. Each picture seemed full of light and hope, and as I looked at them - the tears just seemed to stream down my face. How had he done it? How had my dad who was so sick, so close to death, found the beauty that God had put in this world?

Love is patient, love is kind, (it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 4, 7 & 8)

My mom has Alzheimer’s Disease. She has lived in the nursing home for almost 4 years now. The nurses and aids treat her so special. Some of them worked with her, and they always stop and say hello. But the disease has slowly continued, and the people and memories she has from working there - are now gone. She always smiles, and is always happy when they stop by and say hello. But I see the blank look in her eyes, as she wonders just who they are.

Last week, Ted and I went to visit my mom. It was close to lunch time, so we visited with her in the dining room. It is always set up like a little restaurant, and mom’s name is on a special place card at her spot at the table. She hugged me and I could see she was so happy to see me. She gave Ted a hug, and then we all sat down at her table. It was early, so the other patients had come down yet. She asked how the family was, and we talked a little bit. Then her friend Phyllis came and sat down. “Your mom doesn’t eat anything!” she said as she looked over at me. “What did she cook for you when you were young?” she asked. I laughed a little and told her a few things my mom used to make us when we were little. “Well she doesn’t eat them now!” she said with a bit of a huff! I looked at mom and that’s when it hit me. My mom doesn’t know what she likes to eat. So when they give her food that she doesn’t know what it is, she won’t eat it. “All she eats is peanut butter and jelly” Phyllis added. Mom just seemed to nod and look so confused. As the rest of the people came into the dining room, I told my mom we needed to leave. She hugged me and asked me to come again. I promised her I would. But I left feeling so sad . . .

Love - believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . .

“Hope” - as I held up the shirt - I couldn’t help but feel like “hope” had somehow been lost. “Lord” I silently prayed, “please help my mom” And then I also realized that I wanted Him to help me. “Help me to have hope - not only for my mom - but for myself - and all who deal with this terrible disease” I whispered . . .

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;
Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully -
Just as I also have been fully known.
But now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
But the greatest of these - is love.
(I Corinthians 13: 12 & 13)

“Hope” - sometimes I need to remember that it is OK when we lose hope. God knows how we feel. He loves me, and He knows how to take care of me, even when I have lost hope. All I need to do, is ask Him . . .

As I think about the pictures my dad took just before he passed away, I realize now that he finally stopped struggling, and let God take care of him. As he did that, he was able to see through God’s eyes. Those pictures are a reminder to me, that “Hope” is never really lost - when we give our lives over to God . . .

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God

Am I still sad about my mom? Yes. But I also know that she has many more happy moments each day, than she did during the years when my dad was sick. My mom laughs with the nurses, she is so happy each time she sees me or my brother, and she loves all the music and programs that she goes to every single day at the nursing home. She may not remember those moments, but each laugh - each smile - is going somewhere inside of her, and helping her life to be a little better.

There is a quote that I read on a website not too long ago. As I read it, the words seemed to go straight into my heart. This is what it said:

Isn’t it odd that our minds may not remember every little detail of what happened in our lives -
But our hearts will always remember the feelings
(by Brigitte Nicole)

My hope and prayer is for each of us to ask God to come into our hearts. When we do, that is where we will find our “Hope” for each and every day.

God bless you and keep you, until we meet back here again.

In His Amazing Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers