8:14 p.m. Today's project was to comfort and be comforted. II Corinthians 1:3-4 says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
A little after 11:30 this morning, I picked up a voicemail from my dad saying it was urgent that I return his call. His 4-year-old Weimaraner had died, he believes, by poisoning, because she was healthy and suddenly stopped eating about 10 days ago, then her appetite improved for a day or two. This morning he found her. "Glass mixed into hamburger seems to be the method dogs are being killed by here in Redlands," he said, and noted a morning when the dogs on his and the other side of the fence were barking furiously, he thinks at a burglar trying to break into a neighboring home where the people had been on a long vacation. The younger of his two dogs probably got to the meat first, and as a result, died a painful and cruel death. Daddy was needing information for which agency to call, since he knows we have been through three doggie deaths over the last 30 years, so I suggested Animal Control to start. Later she got picked up at no charge. So sad and disappointing, but we talked about it for a while, and he recovered his usual demeanor, full of ideas and advice as always.
Not long after, a customer and former teacher colleague came by to pick up a Mary Kay "Satin Hands" gift set, and we got onto the subject of her 90 year-old mother in severe late stage Alzheimer's. "Marnie" is trustee of her parents' trust, and had come from a tax appointment with the attorney, and then from talking with the renter in the home her parents had lived in. Her mom is now in a private home care setting, where she is known as Amazing Kay for her speedy escapes to visit friends who live nearby!
Yet, Kay doesn't know her daughter, calling her by the names of her own sisters. She wants to know how her own parents, dead for 50 years, are doing on their farm in Minnesota, and recently wrote them a letter. The memory picture albums Marnie brings over on her twice-weekly visits do little to jog her memory, but by the end of each visit, her mother does call her by name. "She's just not the mother I knew." We talked for a very long time, because it was much needed. Marnie is hurting and overwhelmed, but very glad she retired in 2008 to take care of her parents.
I don't fully understand dealing with this insidious disease in an elderly parent, but I know the Lord had me there to listen, comfort, assure Marnie she was doing the right thing, especially having moved her parents out of their home for safety reasons. Both her late father--stroke-induced dementia-- and her mother actually tried to escape a large and very well run facility, Integrated Care Communities, and accused Marnie of tricking them. "I still feel guilty about it, but I had no choice." My prayer is that a door of witness may be opened with my friend soon; only Jesus can cleanse from guilt and pain!
At 4 p.m., it was my turn to receive comfort and encouragement from my friend Candace, whom I'm helping start her Mary Kay business by giving her a basket full of fun summer products to sell to earn the money to invest in a New Consultant kit. As we looked through the "stocking stuffer"-priced goodies, she asked me about Steve, listened and truly empathized, because her mother-in-law had early-onset Alzheimer's and had become violent by age 60. This reached a point where living with the family was out of the question. Although my plan, Lord willing, is to have home care for Steve all the way through, I feel comforted to know that others have made the tough decisions and it's been for the best for everyone. I'm grateful to the Lord for His continual guidance and provision, and for those who have walked the path before me.
This week, several email messages of comfort and encouragement have come from family and friends in response to the cancellation of our 30th anniversary service and party, assuring me of continued prayer for Steve and me. I love our family and church family with all my heart!
What I appreciate most is the way my Lord Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father, "the God of all comfort" orchestrated each conversation today. Therefore I rest in Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.