Once, I attended a play with my grandchildren. It was a delightful stage presentation with brightly colored puppets and exciting music.
The central theme was, “You can overcome obstacles if you just keep trying.” The main character was born with a disability, yet he succeeded. One supporting actress had a short-term memory problem. Better said, she had none. Even though disabled, her help to the others was crucial. Her strength was her determination.
Despite her positive attributes, she was a source of laughter. It was funny to hear her call puppets by the wrong name. It didn’t seem right to laugh at her disability though she was a puppet.
Limitations of the mind, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, stuttering, and autism, can cause sufferers to say unusual things or behave in strange ways, but it’s not funny. She reminds me of my mother, who has vascular dementia, which affects her short-term recall. Mom recalls new things for three minutes. I call it a phone-number memory. She remembers an event for as long as an average person can recall a random telephone number.
She repeatedly asks, “Have we had dinner?” or “Are the doors locked?” Forget about telling her I’m going outside to check the mail. In the short time to walk to the box and back, she’s afraid I’ve left her. To a casual observer, it seems odd, but it’s scary for her.
We help her cope with her disability by answering her questions without laughing. We allow her to “save face” as she makes excuses for her off-the-wall comments. Sometimes, she can still hold a reasonable conversation. In time, it might change, and she won’t say silly things — or nothing.
Unlike the confused character in the play, there won’t be a happy ending. We aren’t puppets. We live in a mortal body, and I can see my mother’s failing. Mom travels in a wheelchair, her back is bent, and she has dementia. Her future is dim, but we have hope in the everlasting. Paul describes it this way:
II Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
So, 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… seen, but at the things… not seen; for the things… seen are temporal, but the things… not seen are eternal.
Our hope is in heaven, where there will be no sorrow, sickness, or death. When we arrive, we’ll wonder why we waited so long.
© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn