I recently attended a play with my grandchildren. It was a delightful stage presentation with bright colored puppets and exciting music.
The central theme was “it’s possible to overcome obstacles if you just keep trying.” The main character was born with a physical disability yet was able to succeed. One of the characters had a short-term memory problem. That is, she had none. Even though she was disabled, her assistance to the main character was crucial. Her strength was her determination.
Despite her positive attributes, she was mostly a source of laughter. It was funny to hear her call someone by the wrong name. Even though I couldn’t help laughing I was uneasy. It didn’t seem right to laugh at her disability though she was a puppet. Limitations of the mind like dementia, stuttering, and autism might cause sufferers to say funny things or behave in strange ways, but it’s not funny.
My mother is exactly like her. She has vascular dementia which has affected her short-term memory. Her ability to remember new things is limited to three minutes. I call it a phone-number memory. She can remember something about as long as an average person can retain a random phone number.
She asks me repeatedly questions like, “Have we had dinner?” or “Are the doors locked?” There is no explaining, I’m going outside to check the mailbox. In the few minutes it takes to walk to the mailbox and back, she has begun to worry that she might be alone. It might seem funny to a casual observer but think how scary it is for her.
We help her cope with her disability by answering her questions seriously without laughing. We allow her to “save face” as she makes excuses for her off-the-wall questions. Thankfully, she can still hold a somewhat reasonable conversation. In a time that might change, and she won’t say silly things. She may no longer say anything at all.
Unlike the character in the play, there won’t be a happy ending on this earth. After all, we aren’t puppets. We live in a mortal body. My mother’s body is failing. She can barely stand without assistance which forced her into a wheelchair. Her back is bent, and her mind is failing. Though her future, and our future, is dim, we have hope in the eternal. Paul describes it this way:
II Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul was on a mission to persecute followers of Christ when light from heaven flashed around him. Though he couldn’t see anything, he heard the voice of Christ and became a believer. He realized the eternal is much different than the present.
Paul claims the affliction of this world will pale in comparison to the glory of heaven. Our situation here is only temporary.
© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn