My mom is stubborn. And sometimes she a royal pain in the butt. But I have a theory about this: In trying to imagine what it must be like to lose my ability to function “normally”—speak clearly, use the correct words, control my emotions, remember how to perform basic tasks, dress appropriately, behave well in public places—I realized that there’s a part of my mom that’s struggling to be heard. Maybe this part of her brain isn’t demented, maybe this part of her is trying to say, “Hey, I’m here. I am still here and I can do these things. Don’t treat me like a child. I’m the mom. I’m the wife. I’m part of this community! CAN’T YOU HEAR ME!!!???”
This is my theory.
So when we try to take away certain freedoms, like the car, it’s a huge ordeal for her—and for us. Of course, we do these things to keep her safe. It’s very different when you want prevent her from doing something because she’s annoying and difficult. Well, a group of people are trying to do just that because my mom is sick. These people want take away another freedom from her and the sad part is that these individuals are members of an organization that should be compassionate and ready to welcome the most damaged person with open arms: the Catholic Church.
My mom was always incredibly active at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Phoenix. Always welcoming new members, giving communion to the sick, participating in prayer groups, or having lunch with the ladies.
Now, she still enjoys giving Communion. This simple act is something that gives her a tremendous amount of satisfaction and joy. Of course, mom needs help and while there are a few individuals willing to support her… making sure all goes well and she is doing what she is suppose to do, there are others who want her to stop. I have talked to these people and their position is that it’s too much work to watch her. She’s challenging. She makes mistakes. She doesn’t always understand or follow instructions.
OK. I get this. I understand their frustrations. I see that they’re annoyed. Still, I am compelled to stand up for her tonight when the Communion folks gather to talk about my mom and whether she should continue giving the Eucharist.
“If a man’s gift is serving, let HIM serve; if it is teaching, let HIM teach; if it is encouraging, let HIM encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let HIM give generously; …” Romans 12:7-8
“So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those that follow you, though weak and lame, will not fall and hurt themselves, but become strong.” Hebrews 12:12
If the church is truly a sanctuary, then my mom should be embraced. She should be cared for and watched over. She should be supported for as long as possible. Her disease isn’t shameful. Yes, it’s not easy. It sucks. Sometimes, it’s ugly. Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes you just want to scream and sometimes you want to scream at your demented parent.
But this disease will soon be the reality for many baby boomers, and that includes many members of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church. I hope I can change their point of view tonight and I hope they see mom as the woman she used to be and not as her disease.