Message from the Chaplain – Issue 07, 9 June 2017
I was fortunate to have a long weekend which enabled me to visit my parents, in country SA, for my Mum’s 87th and my Dad’s 90th birthday.
My Dad has dementia and has been in care for the past two years as my Mum could no longer care for him at home. Thus, my Mum lives alone. Fortunately, my older sister and brother-in-law live in the same country town.
The scriptures tell us: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34, NIV
For my Dad, we celebrated his birthday with gusto. The first Oakey ever to reach 90. And the next day he asked, “Why are those balloons in my room?” My Dad’s dementia means he has recall of distant past memories but no recall of some things after about 10 minutes, so we could only tell him about his birthday. In sharing with him, he smiled for the first time for years (he told us five years ago when asked to smile for a photo that he had stopped smiling 20 years earlier and wasn’t going to start now), he laughed and joked with us. What great memories for us. We cried tears of laughter.
My Mum’s birthday was well celebrated too, but I know she will miss the company when my two younger sisters, who were staying with her, leave for their homes in the Eastern States on Wednesday.
There are many people in our community who are haunted by memories or feel alone. Which makes them apprehensive about tomorrow, so that they never live in the present.
If they are family, it is really important that we reach out to them, even when it is difficult. Even when we see no ‘expected’ response or thanks.
My Dad and Mum will always be my Dad and Mum. Were they perfect? No…but then neither have I been, am or will be. It has been an important learning curve for me as my parents have aged – not to live with regret but to live every moment when I am with them and let tomorrow take care of itself. The first five commandments given to Moses are all about relationships, God sees them as important in the here and now, and so should we.
Father Noel Oakey