Alzheimer’s taught me a lesson about love. Does someone you love have Alzheimer’s disease? One reason this disease is so devastating is because it robs families of something that usually is a comfort during times of sickness. It robs those who have it of the memory of their loved ones. In our case it the disease could not keep my grandmother from remembering love.
It is my prayer that this post would be an encouragement to you if someone you love has Alzheimer’s.
I don’t know you but I believe you’re someone I love.
Those are the words my Mom’s mother, my sweet Grandma, said to my Dad one day when he asked her if she knew who he was. She suffered from Alzheimer’s. At the time, she was living with my parents so that Mom could keep an eye on her. Like most Alzheimer’s patients she had good days and bad days. Dad would often come home after work and kiss her on the cheek and ask her how her day had been.
If you’ve ever been around someone with Alzheimer’s you know they can be very unpredictable and you never know what response you might get from them. On that occasion Dad got a sort of sad but very sweet response. Another time he provoked a slightly different dialogue from her. He came in and had a conversation with her and when he left the room she looked at my mom and asked “Who was that fat man?” So you just never knew what you were going to get.
Remembering someone I love
I love the fact that even when her mind wasn’t working right her heart was. “I believe you’re someone I love.” She and my Dad were blessed in that they had a very special relationship. You often hear mother-in-law jokes because sometimes people just don’t get along with each other. Dad and Grandma had a really nice bond, probably because they both loved Jewel Marie and she loved them.
He’d tease her and she’d laugh and say “oh Bobby”. That relationship and love for each other was strong enough to withstand the ravages of that horrible disease. So even if she couldn’t quite place where she knew him from, she knew she loved him.
I think there is a lesson for all of us in this sweet little encounter between a mother and her son-in-law.
If a love is strong it presses through all kinds of circumstances and scenarios.
My Grandma and my Dad were very different. She was quiet and quick to serve others while dad was anything but quiet and he was used to being in charge. As a natural leader, he served people in a different way than my Grandmother did. Even though they didn’t always see eye to eye, Dad and Grandma found a way to love and appreciate each other in spite of their differences.
I’m sure there were times when my Grandmother wished that my Father would have made different decisions that affected her daughter’s life. For instance, the time he moved her almost a thousand miles away from her home in Texas. In spite of those occasions I’m quite sure my Grandma knew my Mom was head over heels in love with him so she loved him too.
Remembering someone I love, loves you
What can we take away from this other than that warm fuzzy feeling? I think we can learn something here. As Christians we love our Lord. We love Him because He first loved us. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on a cross so that we could be with Him for eternity. “For God so loved the world….” We’re all very familiar with the first line from the most famous verse in the Bible. He loved us and now we love Him, hopefully with all of our hearts.
When you truly love someone it changes the way you feel about the things they love.
Remembering to Love Like Jesus
If we are really in love with God then we want to please Him and love the things that He loves. Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” In fact He asked three times in a row. “DO YOU LOVE ME?” When Peter said yes Jesus simply said “then feed my sheep”.
Take care of the ones that I love if you truly love Me.
Jesus was talking about the Church and His followers but I think He wanted that and more. When asked “What is the greatest commandment?” He said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind”. Then in the same breath He said “and love your neighbor as yourself”. Those two things were totally connected. He basically says if you love God then you’ll love your fellow man.
Remembering to Love Others
What if we took those words to heart and started loving people just because our Lord loves them?
I have a feeling our world would look a lot different. Too often Christians today come across as being judge-mental and even hateful towards those with different lifestyles. Hatred, spite, and finger pointing are not going to convince others that our Savior loves them and wants what is best for them. We obviously need to change our approach. We need to start looking at people the way my Grandmother looked at my Dad “I don’t know you but I believe you’re someone I love” simply because someone I love loves you.
Let them grow on you
I’m not sure how my grandmother felt about my father at the beginning of their relationship. He proposed to my mother on their first date and they were married a few months later. That’s not a whole lot of time for my Dad and his mother-in-law to develop a strong loving relationship. Over time though she grew to love him and even trust him with her only daughter. My father’s love for my mother grew and extended to her parents and theirs’ to him. I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight but true love gives people a chance to grow on you.
This is the attitude Christ wants us to have. We should look at others through our Heavenly Father’s eyes as someone worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice, especially when that person does not know Him as Savior. Then we will love them the way that Christ loves them, seeing His potential in them. It might not be prudent to walk up to a stranger, hug them, look them in the eye, and say I love you the first time we meet, but we can be friendly and let others know we’re interested in what they have to say.
If you are like me, this is not an easy task, but at least we have someone to help.
The Holy Spirit can speak to and show us how to love the people He loves and give us all a chance to grow on each other. As we show unconditional love, maybe someday they will begin to trust our intentions enough to let us tell them about our Savior.
So here’s to a new and improved David who can hopefully look at people he doesn’t know and think “I don’t know you but I believe you’re someone I love”.
Will you join me?