November 12, 2011

Grandma's House

I visited my grandmother today who is well into her 90's and suffering the kind of memory loss that is usually associated with Alzheimer's.  I watched this woman, whom i love dearly and have the ultimate respect for, as she tries to recall the most basic memories.  To her credit and thanks to my grandfather being utterly in love with my grandma, this heartbreaking new trial is met head on and with dignity.  I sat on the sofa trying not to let her see the tears welling up in my eyes, while my grandparents joked about how interesting and exciting their lives are now. 

I listened as my grandfather told of all the funny things grandma says and does.  Just this week my grandmother forgot where she lived.  After arriving home from a doctors appointment, my grandmother wondered who's driveway they had just pulled into.  Grandpa told her this was her home, but she didn't believe him.  Then they walked inside the house and my grandma looked around and said,  "OH Mark, this is a beautiful home! Is this really our home?"

My Grandfather told me that she walked around the house, looking from room to room.  In every room, she recognized something familiar, but didn't remember much else.  Then this sweet lady walked downstairs and into the family room.  She started to point out something she recognized, but stopped and let out an excited little yell.  My grandmother had just seen all the pictures on the wall.  "Now I remember....Oh, how wonderful!"   And so, my Grandpa went through every photo there in the family room, naming every single person and how they were related.  Both of them laughed as they told me this story and I asked my grandmother if she remembers being scared or worried when she wasn't 100 percent sure this was her home.  She said; "I kept finding things that looked familiar and I had a good feeling so I just decided to keep on looking until I knew for sure."

A few hours later I was talking with a friend of mine about having faith and how tough it can be to get back to church, especially when the changes we need to make in our lives seem overwhelming.  Getting life back to where he wants it to be, will take time and it wont be easy.  In fact, it seems hopeless or just plain impossible to my friend.  But that's not how life works.  Very rarely does a person find himself past the point of no return.  My visit to Grandma's house flashed through my mind.  The last thing she said to me took on new meaning. 

What did she do when she was unsure?  She had faith.

"I kept finding things that looked familiar and I had a good feeling so I just decide to keep on looking until I knew for sure."
Life is like my Grandma's house that day and like my Grandma, we need to have faith.   
Some people give up in the driveway, convinced there is no use trying, while others continue inside going room to room.  I think my friend has spent to much time in the driveway and not enough time recognizing those familiar things all around him. 

When a kind act warms you heart, when you read a scripture that is an answer to your prayers, when you forgive someone who hurt you, or  when you hear a child pray, it is your mind sending you a little reminder of what your spirit has always known.  When our minds tell us one thing but our heart tells us something different, always trust your heart. 

When you feel overwhelmed and discouraged with life's ups and downs, just focus on making it to the next room instead of the house as a whole.  Don't give up.  Don't stop searching for those things your spirit recognizes because someday you will find yourself in the last room of the house.  Someday your spirit will exclaim with joy, "I remember now!  Oh how wonderful!"