Right Now

“They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back.  I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble.”    (Jer. 31:9)

One lovely evening and one fine day.That’s all the grace Alzheimer’s gave us. At least for now.

What will happen tomorrow is anybody’s guess. I must keep my attention on today. Already I understand that right now must be my focus.  And I thank the Lord that “right now” is His specialty. His favorite place to work.

Right now, it’s time to get home. I’m driving this time. Very fast. 

The tension erupted this morning as soon as Mom awakened. By the time we loaded the car, she would scarcely tell Mark goodbye. She wasn’t speaking at all to me or Dad.

As I drove out of the parking lot of Mark’s apartment, I looked back at him. Standing beside the two lawn chairs where we planned to sit and have coffee, he waved, then raised his arms over his head and put his hands together, palms touching, fingers pointing straight up.

A few miles down the road, Mom started finding things to complain about. The car was too small, she wanted a different shirt on, she couldn’t see the sun through all those clouds. Mostly, though, she wanted to go home. She insisted. She demanded. She ordered. When normal volume brought no results, she began shouting.

I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain that home is exactly where we’re going.

I’ve tried being nice. “Oh, Mom, look! The mountains are behind us now. Texas is just ahead!”

I’ve tried the truth. “It’s a long way, Mom, but I’ll get us there as fast as I can.”

I’ve tried lying. “We’re almost there. Why don’t you try to take a nap and when you wake up, we’ll be home!”

Dad has tried begging. “Please, honey, don’t yell. We’re going straight home right now. Ok? Please don’t shout.”

And he’s tried anger. “Marie! Stop that! You know it takes a long time to get home from Colorado. Just be quiet and ride.”

Right now we’re trying tunes. I thought maybe soft music would calm Mom, but she just kept yelling that I shouldn’t be in her car and I better leave the radio alone. So the music is for Dad and me. I’ve turned the volume up and sometimes we sing along. Not to annoy Mom—at least I hope that’s not our purpose. I admit I feel furious with her. And clearly she’s furious with us. But I’m acting out of desperation, not anger. I think.

Gasoline, snacks, a bathroom, though Mom refuses to go.  The shouting from the back seat at last becomes silence. Dad stares straight ahead. I keep driving.  Numb, I guess. Numb to fatigue and noise and the anxiety that drums on my mind like tires on pavement. Me too, Mom. All I want is to get home.

Hours later, I’m unlocking their front door. As I help Dad unload the car, I look around their house, dark and stuffy in the middle of the night. 

Dad seems to read my mind. “I’m fine,” he says. “You got us here non-stop.  We’ll be fine now. You go ahead home.”

Fine? I don’t believe him. How can I just drive away and leave him? 

But I do.

Remind me, Father, that Your love is sufficient to care for my parents.  Sweet Jesus, You promised never to leave us or forsake us.  I believe You.  Help my unbelief.  Holy Spirit, guide my father to the necessary things – rest, nourishment, the comfort of the familiar.  Your peace is hard to find tonight, Lord.  Yet I thank You, because I know peace will come.