By Rebekah Anderson
We had lunch with my grandma after church today. While we were there my uncle stopped in with my grandma’s former neighbor. I remembered Mr. D from years ago when we would visit my grandparents in Rockford. They were next-door neighbors. But he held no recognition of me. He suffers from some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. He doesn’t really even know my grandma any longer. So, when he arrived, he was agitated and even a little cantankerous.
But something sweet happened when he came face-to-face with this little darling. He began smiling and cooing to our daughter, Eliza. I thought it to be a bittersweet meeting – one life just beginning, poised to accumulate a lifetime of memories; the other in his sunset, relinquishing the memories of a life long-lived. Looking for some way to communicate his delight with his new little friend, Mr. D reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of quarters and tried to give them to the baby. I offered to keep them for her and put them in her piggy bank.
It blessed me to see a child of mine bless the heart of an old friend. I know Mr. D had been good to my grandma when my grandpa was, himself, suffering from Alzheimer’s. Those memories are probably gone from Mr. D’s mind. But as he left, he turned to my grandma and, maybe in a brief moment of clarity and remembering, told her to call him if she needed anything. She smiled knowingly and told him she would.
Our visit with my grandma concluded shortly after Mr. D left. As she said her goodbyes, she lingered for a moment with Eliza.
“She won’t have any memory of knowing me,” my grandma said. I started to protest, that maybe grandma would…
“Stop,” she said. “I don’t want to live to be that old.”
I think 95 years have given my grandma plenty of good memories. And, blessedly, she has been allowed to keep them. Not all of us have been or will be given that gift.
It is a cruel reality this side of eternity. We spend years going and doing and seeing and loving and at the end, we risk a blank page. Even the great Ronald Reagan was not immune. One of the greatest changers of history eventually succumbed to Alzheimer’s.
His wife, Nancy, died today. I am trusting that God, in His great goodness, reunited the two and restored to them the years of memories they shared. What was lost on earth was preserved in safekeeping in the heavenly history books. I trust that the faithful servant and his faithful wife are now glorying together in the presence of their savior, Jesus. I trust the same for my grandma when she is reunited with my grandpa.
And I pray Mr. D trusts the same. Even if he doesn’t remember.