Simple Joy

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“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”  John 15:11 NASB

I take my mother to Adult Memory Care two days a week.  I drop her off mid-morning and pick her up at the end of the evening meal.  Her morning begins with an activity such as volleyball played with balloons followed by lunch.  Other activities such as crafts stimulate her in the afternoon followed by the evening meal.   Because she enjoys the social interaction, she eats better than at home.

I like to pick her up as she is finishing her evening meal.  I pull up a chair and sit at a table for four as they eat their dessert.  Last evening mother was sitting with Leo, Emily, and Rob.  Each is in a different stage of their disease.

Mother has vascular dementia and may not decline further mentally, but each person is different.  When I arrive, she announces to everyone at the table I am her son. Though Mom announces this every time, it is always news to the other residents.  She continues with a humorous story about my birth which she has told thousands of times to anyone willing to listen.  The punch line is I was supposed to be a girl.  To the other residents, it is a new story which they enjoy.

Leo has Alzheimer disease and is a permanent full-time resident.  A year ago, he spoke some, but now he is silent.  The old man is withdrawing deeper into his own silence and spends most of his day with his face buried in his hands.  He no longer feeds himself.  There is a half-eaten piece of spice cake on the table in front of him.  Maybe he refused to finish it, or possibly the staff rushed away to help someone else.

Robert is a new full-time resident who is very vocal and pleasant.  He compliments me on my shirt since he is partial to blue.  He’s still a sharp dresser and claims he has one very similar to mine.  As with most dementia patients in the early stages, the conversation appears reasonable, at first.

A year ago, Emily was more verbal than now.  She looks like a school teacher with her glasses hanging on a chain around her neck.  She eats her dessert quietly only pausing to giggle appropriately at my jokes.

While Robert compliments me again on my shirt, I fork some cake and point it toward Leo’s mouth.  Surprisingly, he opens wide to accept it and holds his head a little higher as he chews.  His lifeless eyes seem to awaken a little as he enjoys the sweet pastry.

As Mother starts another often-repeated story, everyone at the table is happy.  Rob invites me to his house for coffee sometime, Emily occasionally giggles like a school girl, and Leo accepts another fork of cake.  I’m the only one at the table with cares, but I can ignore them for a while.

God created man in His own image…. -Genesis 1:27 NASB

Inside every soul is an eternal, joyful, flickering light.  It’s God’s image. Though our bodies may fail and our minds dim, God’s indwelling presence will never cease.  As we sat around the table happy and senseless, the joy of the Lord was amongst us.  Sometimes, it seems happiness comes in unexpected times and places.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us- Helen Keller

(©)  2018 Ronald Milburn