Friday, April 14, 2017

Last Easter Mom nearly choked in church

On this weekend of deaths and resurrections, I’d like to talk about the one that got away.

Jesus lives!

And so does my Mom!

Last Easter, for the latter the matter seemed in doubt.

It was a moment I’ll never forget. She nearly died the most perfect Christian death. And I was right there rooting for it. Praying, actually.

Many will think me callous, sacrilegious, heartless, blah, blah, blah.

But she’s my 84-year-old mother. I’m her primary caretaker. I’m the one who takes her to the doctor, the beauty salon, and along with Val sees to all her needs, and the one thing this seven-year journey has taught me is to never judge others or myself when it comes to honest emotions in dealing with dementia patients.

I dearly miss the way she was. She’s always reminded me of Carol Burnett and I got my sense of humor from her so it’s fair to say she gave me everything I have.

Since we moved her out here in August, we see her nearly every day. She’s enjoyed the kids’ school plays and performances and sitting by the family fire when it’s snowy and out on the porch when it’s warm.

And in the moment, she’s always very happy.

It’s just in the very next moment, she doesn’t remember a single bit of it.

Just Sunday I took her to her old church in the South Hills where she was for years a joyful fixture in the choir. All her friends were there and went with us to a grand lunch at a lively neighborhood restaurant.

It was wonderful. She is beloved.

And not 30 minutes later she couldn’t recall where we’d been, who we’d seen or what we’d done.

She’s been like that for about five years.

Yet, she’s incredibly fit with a constitution that impresses her doctor.

“I can’t explain it, but her health is excellent,” he said. “She could live another 10 years.”


Her father lived to 97.

So, forgive me, but I have morbid impatience for seeing how this all ends.

Especially after last Easter Sunday.

She was with us in church, smiling and sweet as ever, when it came time for holy communion. When it was our turn, I assisted her out of the pew and up to the altar where together three generations knelt for our blessings.

A covenant that symbolizes the Last Supper, the wafer and wine represent the very body and blood of our savior Jesus Christ.

And for an electric moment last Easter we all thought it was going to kill Nana.

My daughters contend it was the wine down the wrong pipe, but I say it was the wafer because it’s what I truly believe (and because, sure, it makes a better story).

Either way, she began choking. Right there at the altar.

She was coughing. Gagging. Turning red.

It was beautiful!

Think about it.

If Mom dies there on the altar, on Easter Sunday, choking on the body and blood of her Savior, could there possibly be a better Christian death?

I don’t think so. I think you’d go right to heaven where Jesus begs your forgiveness and then escorts you to a really nice balcony suite with free HBO and a stack of chips you can use in the casino.

Just like Vegas!

Hell, you couldn’t wish for a better death.

I remember my exact thoughts as I sensed Mom might be choking to death:

Don’t anybody touch her!

My great fear was some church butt-in-ski was going to rush up and give her the Heimlich Maneuver and save her life.

Such heroics would have left me in a terrible quandary: Do I let him or her save my Mom or do I wrestle them to the carpet right there by the pulpit to ensure the life saving does not occur?

It was not to be.

What ever the obstruction, her ever-loving will to live overcame it. The drama was over. She was fine.

Still is.

Praise God.

I continue to spend much of my waking hours tending to her needs and ensuring her comfort. Those efforts include seeing to her spiritual devotions.

That’s why Sunday I’m again looking forward to taking her to Easter service, saying my steadfast prayers about her future and ensuring she gets to partake in the holy communion.

Oh, yes. I’ll see to it she again partakes of the body and the blood.

I’ll do so if I have to drag her bony old ass up there myself!

It’s just what any good son would do.

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