To Be Found

Sarah   |   May 21, 2019 

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."[1]

I was taking my Grandma to her new (nursing) home. Just a week before, she had moved from her flat in an independent-living-retirement-village to a room in a nursing home. My Grandma was great physically – she could still touch her toes at 96! – but she had dementia and needed more care. It was a family decision for Grandma to move though it wasn’t an easy decision. We told Grandma that if she really didn’t like her new home, we wouldn’t make her stay…but we had no back up plan.

Over time, as Grandma’s dementia worsened, life became a musical. Her short-term memory was shot to pieces but her long-term memory was entirely intact. All the songs she had learnt in her early years were fresh in her mind. And Grandma had a wide range of musical taste! Songs from the war, old classic hymns, traditional Scottish folk songs her mother used to sing to her, songs from Broadway and the movies, Handel’s Messiah… we could be talking about anything and everything, and Grandma could and would break out into a song to match!

Grandma and I pulled up outside her new home and when we got out of the car she said to me, ‘Sarah, I don’t know where I am.’ I could hear the anxiety in Grandma’s voice at not knowing her surroundings; of having no bearings and feeling lost at sea. I grieved the loss of her memory that made things like coming to a new home so scary even though there was so much love and care for her there.

We had been singing along to some hymns together in the car. The last one was Amazing Grace. I turned to Grandma – by this time we were walking as we always did, her right hand holding my left arm, me leading the way – ‘Remember what we were just singing?’ Not such a helpful question to ask Grandma! There was no way she’d remember, even if was just a minute ago. I remembered for us…

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

‘I know you don’t know where you are, Grandma, but Jesus knows where you are – He’s found you; you’re found in Him.’ ‘Yes,’ she said. Her anxiousness was still there, but there was assurance mixed with it now – I could feel it in her steps. ‘You may not know where you are or even who you are sometimes, Grandma, but God knows.’ What a precious moment we shared, not just as grandmother and granddaughter, but as sisters in Christ. We continued walking up to Grandma’s room, together remembering the rest of Amazing Grace.

I’m so thankful that despite Grandma’s memory fading, truths of the gospel were not forgotten. Though she needed help sometimes in the foggy-ness to remember and believe…don’t we all?

Grandma’s dementia prompted me to think, ‘What is it I want to remember when the foggy-ness – either literal or metaphorical – sets in?’ Here’s just a few things I want to hold onto; what I’ve learnt from walking with Grandma and her dementia (and writing them down will help me remember).

First of all, it’s not about my ability to remember. Don’t get me wrong; I want to do all I can to remember who God is and who I am as His – learn portions of Scripture by heart, memorise the lyrics of good Christian songs, study and meditate on God’s Word so that it resonates deep within… But if my ability to remember is weakened – for whatever reason – God is the One who has called me and He will carry me through.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.

These opening verses from Isaiah 43 were some of Grandma’s favourites (she never said so directly, but repeated them often). These verses point out something else I want to remember: we’re not alone, because God is with us. And this side of the cross, God is living in us through His Spirit. I have no doubt it was the Holy Spirit who helped Grandma remember clearly she is a daughter of the King (humanly speaking this was close to an impossible task for Grandma towards the end).

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. …the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  [2]

And we’re not alone, because God has given us family in Christ.[3] We have brothers and sisters who help us along the way, who point us to The Way.[4] Even before Grandma moved to the nursing home, if we were out (i.e. anywhere but her home) she would often become anxious as evening approached and set in. She would ask, ‘Do you know where I live?’ Grandma couldn’t remember herself; she had no choice but to trust us to remember for her (and she was good at this for the most part). But when she walked through the front door of her house, she always knew that she was home and a relieved sigh would escape her lips.

This brings me to the last point I want to remember: we’re on a journey home; home-home, to heaven, to be with Jesus in all His splendid glory for ever and ever. This world is not forever. Home on earth is not heaven on earth!

‘In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.’ [5]

In God’s kindness, just nine weeks after Grandma moved into her new (nursing) home, God called her home-home, to be with Him. She was peaceful and we were too, knowing that she is full of joy with Jesus – Grandma wanted to go to heaven so much! And I know, she knows she’s home.

 

[1] From the hymn Amazing Grace by John Newton, 1779.

[2] Romans 8:16-17; 26a. Romans 8 is so good!! This is certainly a passage worth learning by heart.

[3] Hebrews 10:25.

[4] John 14:6.

[5] John 14:2-3.

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Sarah

Sarah, a biblical counsellor from New Delhi, loves her time in the city with her wide circle of friends. She enjoys thinking deeply, playing the piano, being creative in the kitchen for her friends and having people come home. You will find Sarah always ready for a cup of tea or coffee (she likes both!) and chat.

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2 comments on “To Be Found”

  1. Sarah, your mother was good enough to give me your link. What a beautiful memorial for Margaret's last days with a song in her heart and a firm step. Thank you for sharing it with me. I am going to ask you if I may use some of your last times with her (my friend)? I deliver the devotion for our craft ladies on the first thursday of each month. Your grandmother's story is perfect for our ladies who are losing friends to illness and, yes, dementia. May I repeat your story? I needn't even use your names (although I would like to).
    It's perfect. Margaret was such a Lady and a good friend. Thank you.
    Beth

  2. I got the link to this story from Challies "daily ala carte." This was beautifully written. I love that you pointed out that the Holy Spirit was abiding in her and still guiding her even when she was unable to guide herself. I've never thought of that with dementia! How comforting that is!!

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