Hope for the Unknown

“Mom, what’s so funny?” I asked as she walked down the hallway to rejoin us. Having exited the bathroom, I anticipated a variety of funny scenarios.

“I’m wearing two pairs of pants! Isn’t that silly?” Her laughter was contagious and I joined in, but all the while thinking, This isn’t funny.

I caught my sister’s eye. Our laughter couldn’t mask our deep concern and growing suspicions.

When Mom began forgetting to take her medicine, we thought it was just old age settling in. When she got lost driving home on a familiar road, we excused it as too dark to see the road signs clearly.

But the day she wore two pair of pants we couldn’t find an excuse. It was something more than silly.

How can someone put on a second pair of pants and not realize it?

The answer to that question wasn’t funny at all. It’s called Alzheimer’s.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind. What caused this? What can be done to stop it?
How long before she doesn’t remember me?

The unknown answer to that last question haunted me. I begged God to be merciful and allow Mom to always remember me. Her condition was the focus of many prayers. Her physical health was in steady decline. Diabetes had left her legally blind and with unpredictable blood sugar levels extremely hard to regulate. Mini strokes required hospital stays, weakening her ability to care for herself. Growing more forgetful and confused necessitated 24 hour care.

I pleaded with God to take her home before she had to experience her biggest fear – a nursing home.

Although my mother was a woman of faith, sometimes anxiety got the best of her. I inherited that tendency. I was anxious about her health and fearful she would forget me.

One day while crying out in prayer, I felt God answer in a surprising way. Forming as thoughts in my mind, I felt as if God said, “You’re praying like you have Alzheimer’s… spiritual Alzheimers.

This realization hit me hard. I had been praying like I’d forgotten all God had done for our family in the past. Reminders of his faithfulness flooded my mind.

I recalled:

…unexpected monetary gifts to match a need
…return of a wayward child
…protection of my in-laws attacked in their home
…depression lifting after months of suffering

…broken relationships restored
…comfort when loved ones died
…emotional and physical healing
…guidance in parenting

As the list grew in my mind so did my resolve to trust God. Recalling his faithfulness infused me with hope.

Alzheimer’s was definitely a journey into the unknown. As I began to trust God, I no longer worried about my mom forgetting me. I found peace despite the temptation to be anxious. Fresh hope even found joy as we walked together into the unknown.

©2017 Cindy Richardson for GateWay of Hope

Cindy Richardson seeks to encourage, challenge and inspire women in their journey of hope through Bible studies, speaking and writing. Cindy weaves God’s truth and shares her faith with kindergartners at St. Joseph Christian School.

Residing in St. Joseph, Missouri with her husband, Tom, she enjoys the friendship of her three grown daughters and loves being Nana to six grandchildren.
For more inspiration, visit cindyrichardson.org.

Writing Through the Grief

The inaudible voice in my heart was unmistakable and the message clear: I want you to write your daughter’s story and I will give you the strength to do it.Bethanys Calendar Cover

It was not an assignment I relished; in fact, it was a directive I dreaded.

Write about my daughter, Lord? Seriously?

The thought of re-living my daughter, Bethany’s battle with a terminal brain tumor seemed a daunting and emotionally painful task.

How could I bear that step-by-step recollection of the worst days of my life?

Yet, after decades of knowing Christ as my Savior, I knew it was pointless to argue with the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

Since the unspoken message came during the Spirit-filled praise and worship time at a 2011 writer’s conference, I decided I had not imagined this mission.

In the midst of my angst, the Comforter continued to reassure me He would be there as I wrote each and every word.

Yet I knew every phrase would be wrought through an onslaught of tears.

I delayed starting this “assignment,” knowing how difficult it would be. But that inner voice kept nagging my spirit, even while I continued to write my preferred genre of historical fiction.

In 2014, I finally gave in and began my daughter’s story.

On New Year’s Day that year, I sat in my home office and read through Bethany’s journals, which she had started when she was barely old enough to put sentences together.

Reading through her lifetime of thoughts was an indescribable gift and a legacy of her faith in Christ. It was a day of reading that I will always treasure.

I gathered excerpts from her diaries and used them to open each chapter. Amazingly, nearly every quote fit beautifully with the topics. Even more amazing, the writing of the book flowed unhindered.

Of course, I kept my box of tissues nearby and used them frequently. But my daughter’s story bloomed like a perennial garden after a long, cold winter.

It was time to push through the dirt of disease and show the beauty of a life lived well for the Lord.

The response to Bethany’s Calendar has been more than I could have hoped for. So many readers share how they have been touched by the things our family learned during Bethany’s illness and ultimate passing to eternity.

From caregivers to patients to those who just want to help others going through illness, I pray Bethany’s Calendar is a blessing to all. Just as Bethany was a blessing to us.

©2015 Elaine Marie Cooper Elaine Cooper
This post first appeared in “Southern Writers Suite T” blog.

Bio: Elaine Marie Cooper has released her first non-fiction book, Bethany’s Calendar. It is a personal memoir of her daughter who died of a brain tumor and how the Lord was their strength during the darkest journey of their lives.
As a novelist, Elaine Marie Cooper has written “Fields of the Fatherless” and the “Deer Run Saga.” Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Visit her website at: http://www.elainemariecooper.com