Let Christ be Our Sure Foundation

To the remnants of the children of Israel, on a mountain near Jerusalem and amidst the ruins of destruction in the Americas, Jesus preached his gospel as found in the Bible in Matthew 7 and in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 14. It is no surprise that his gospel is the same to all his people.

He taught that we should not judge unrighteously because the same measuring stick we use for another's worth will be used to measure our own. He taught that we should ask, seek and knock--that we should come unto God for all that we need and desire. He taught that the way to God is straight and narrow, meaning there are not many roads back to God, but only one.

He taught that we should beware of false prophets and that we would recognize them by their fruits. In other words our actions speak louder than words. Not everyone who claims to know the Lord will be known of him. Our bad acts speak louder than our good words.

Then Jesus concludes with this most powerful analogy. The wise and foolish man. Let us be wise. Let us make Christ our foundation, the rock upon which our lives are built.

3 Nephi 14
24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
(Compare with Matthew 7.)

What Does It Mean to Be Humble?

1 Peter 5 (KJV)
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

What does Peter mean? How can we be humble? How can we put away pride?

The answer to me can be found in our priorities. What or whom do we put first? Do we seek wealth or fame at the expense of those we love? Do we insist on being right rather than embracing others? Do we consider ourselves better than another? Do we seek to protect ourselves from those who would harm us, or do we seek to avenge those wrongs and return harm for harm?

Home Again, Mom, Dad and Me

My two weeks with Dad have come to an end. Thanks especially to my sister and her husband who covered the intervening weekend. Special thanks to my brother who joined me in the evenings with dinners from his wonderful wife.

And thanks in advance to my other brother and his wife who will arrive at Mom and Dad's shortly to cover this coming weekend. And thanks to my nephew who covered Friday afternoon to allow me to drive home before dark today and last week.

I will take some time to reflect on this experience and share more thoughts in future posts. Thanks to all who read and responded to my posts about this experience.

And finally, my deepest thanks to Mom for allowing me to experience just a little of what her life every day is like in caring for Dad. Alzheimer's is no picnic. Mom is my hero!

She is an amazing woman!

My Dad, A Son of Adam

I received this note from my dear friend Jeff by email after he read my post about love and memory.
- - - -
Tyler,

Adam had a job in the garden, even before the fall. The fall changed his job from one of complete satisfaction to one of satisfaction peppered with thorns and thistles in-between. We, like Adam, are drawn to work and that for purposes for which we were created.

Your dad still yearns for work, for purpose, for duty. For decades his duty cared for a ranch and animals and a family. Even after all left, his duty remains to care for his wife. Not only did Adam have work, but he had a wife, as that is how we are built and that is how we are complete. Neglecting work or wife terrifies anyone who embraces duty as one of the only earth-bound purposes for which there is no substitute.

Even as the veneer of youth and our support in memory leaves us, we still remember our duty; if we honored such duty while we were young and full of promise. The testament of age shows when all veneer is removed and only that which is within is left. Age reveals who we really were.

For these reasons you are wise to let your father struggle with those things he may still do for himself. You may help, but he must come to the decisions. You may guide, but so long as he can button the coat, you must wait while he remembers. And while he walks through his workshop, he may not know how to make things from the tools there, but he may still fulfill his obligation to care and order those tools for the day when he may remember.

He still has a job. His oath to duty stands. His love for his bride remains and grows. He is a man. He is a son of Adam.

jeffy

True Love Transcends Mortal Memory

dadnmomToday I employ a new strategy with Dad. My brother and I rise early and chat a moment. Dad has slept most of the night but did get up in the middle and was awake for about an hour before he climbed back into bed. I whisper a prayer of gratitude that my brother has sacrificed his sleep while I enjoyed a full night of blissful dreams.

Despite the lost sleep, Dad is up and getting dressed by about 7:00 a.m. and ready for breakfast about 30 minutes later. The first thing he says to me as I greet him in the kitchen is, "I gotta go home and get my wife." I hug him and reassure him that we will go see her after breakfast and that she will come home tomorrow.
He's eager to see her and very happy to hear that. We eat the same breakfast we had yesterday and 20 minutes later head out to see Mom before she goes to PT today.

When we arrive, Mom is in the bathroom. We wait, Dad in the recliner and me in the straight back chair. In a few minutes Mom emerges from the bathroom with a smile on her face and a warm greeting for us both. She looks good.

Dad rises from his chair as quickly as he can. He pushes past me to get to Mom. He wants to help her get back to the bed. He kisses her and beckons to the bed. He could not be happier to see her. Once she is back in bed resting, Dad sits and relaxes, returning to his primary line of questioning in broken phrases. The meaning is clear. He wants to know when Mom will come home.

Mom holds his hand and pats his arm, assuring Dad that she will be coming home tomorrow. He asks in his own way why she cannot come home now. He is jovial about it and accepts that she must stay one more night. I can see the satisfaction on his face that the one person most familiar to him in this life will soon be coming back home.

I look away and then excuse myself to go find a restroom to give them a moment of privacy they have not really had for more than 10 days. We stay a little longer until the physical therapist arrives. We make our exit and I reassure Dad that we will return later today for another visit. He is reluctant to go but after a lingering moment, he follows me out to the truck.

We get home and like manna from heaven, Dad is able to sit in Mom's new chair and sleep for more than two hours. By noon he is rested and ready for a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich. I add too much jam and Dad winds up with sticky fingers, a puzzle to solve after we finish eating. Eventually he ends up in the bathroom washing his hands but it takes a while for him to come to this solution. I have learned to make a soft suggestion but when it is rejected out of confusion, it is better to wait and let him work it out.

A little more resting from a full tummy and Dad is ready to go again. He puts on his old work hat and jacket, readying himself to go wander through the garage which doubles as his farm workshop. All his tools are there and while he no longer knows what to do with them, he seems to derive some comfort from looking at them.

This time I head him off at the pass with an even better offer. I tell Dad that if he will wait for a few minutes, I will be ready to take him back to town to visit Mom again. Who, he asks. Your wife, I tell him; my Mom. Oh, okay, he says, and takes a seat in the front room waiting patiently on the sofa. I finish with some email and a little more delay and then we go, but only after I ask if he would like to wear his nice hat and coat to go see his wife. He readily agrees and changes into his nice denim coat and gray felt cowboy hat.

We arrive and he greets Mom, happy again to see her and just as happy to learn again that she will be coming home tomorrow. We enjoy seeing an old family friend named Don. He is out walking and recuperating from an illness there. He is now 88 years old, hunched over deeply and dependent on oxygen, but he is happy to see us. Dad remembers him at least in that he knows this man is special to him and he greets him with a warm handshake and a smile in his eyes that mask any confusion in his memory about who exactly this man is. To Dad that part is not important. What he remembers is his love for this man. No other details are important.

Don leaves and we continue to visit with Mom. Eventually the same occupational therapist who was walking with Don returns to Mom's room, ready to take her to do her last OT session this week. Dad is again reluctant to leave. He tells the OT guy to take good care of her. He gives her a kiss goodbye. And I see much more deeply that same look of love and concern for Mom that he had minutes earlier extended to their old friend Don.

For the second time today we leave, but it takes longer and more encouragement from me to get Dad to walk out of Mom's room. He clearly does not really want to go. He definitely does not want to leave her there again. He is not belligerent about it, but he delays as best he can before eventually accepting that he must wait one more day.

The walk out to the truck feels longer and slower this time. I feel acutely in my soul the love that Dad has for Mom. It does not matter that his memory cannot tell him who she is all of the time. It does not matter that he does not know that she is both his wife and my mother. He is always pleased to be told these things. Dad's love for Mom transcends mortal memory. It is a true and eternal love.

Today was a great day!

Tomorrow will be even better.

To the Temple with Dad

vernal_temple

Sleep flees before dawn and my brother and I arise to greet one another. Dad has had a restless night and has been up several times including just minutes ago. The morning arrives soon. My brother leaves and comes back a short time later. I hear him talking with Dad. He is up early. I finish my reading and then peek into the living room. Dad rests in Mom's new chair sleeping.

I sneak into the shower and finish dressing as he wakes. We wave and say, "Good morning." There is a smile on his face. Dad is always happy to greet everyone. It is a mark of his true character. We sit a while and enjoy one another's company. Dad comments on the boots missing from my feet as I put on my socks. I tease him by pointing out that his boots are also missing. He is also missing a hearing aid. A brief search finds it on the floor near his dresser.

Breakfast is a bowl of mini frosted wheat for Dad and granola and yogurt for me. We both take our pills and begin a daily ritual of delay. Dad wants to go now. It's a bit too early. So I say, "I'll be ready in a few minutes." He wanders around the house looking for something. He finds his belt and puts it on.

After a few delays, we pack our kit--some water and protein balls--and don our coats. The air is crisp and it takes a mile or two for the truck to warm up enough to take the chill off. We're on our way to Vernal.

In Vernal we shop at Walmart for almonds, cheese and sugar free drinks with a touch of lime which Dad seems to enjoy very much. Dad's slow shuffle makes for a longer than ordinary trek through the house of worldly goods. I honestly enjoy it. We drive over to see the Vernal temple and go slowly past it. We comment on how beautiful it looks. I know Dad loves the temple even though he is now unable to attend. When this portion of his life is over, he will surely be of service on the other side of the veil. Of that I have no doubt.

We meander on back to the Villa to visit Mom the long way via Neola and Dad remarks on many of the "new" houses and says often, "I have never been here before," or, "I have not been here in a long time." I always respond affirmatively and reassure him. Soon we're visiting Mom and she looks very good today. Better than yesterday. She comforts Dad and assures him that she will be home in two days. She has already spoken with the doctor and the physical therapist. They had been thinking of Saturday but she has convinced them to let her go home on Friday afternoon. Again and again she assures Dad, every time he asks, with angelic and practiced patience. Every time he is relieved and glad to hear it.

We say our goodbyes and grab a burger on our way home.  The afternoon is passed with increasing fretting over many things and nothing. Dad looks for things and finds nothing. He looks in the closet and the bedroom. He fiddles with this and that and sits sometimes with me. Most tellingly he asks me several times in his own way if his wife is coming home. Though he cannot express it adequately, it is obvious that he misses Mom very much.

At one point, he is picking up the house phone and trying to dial it. This is something he is no longer really able to do. I ask him if he is trying to call his wife. He says yes. I offer to help and call her on my mobile. He speaks to her briefly on speaker and she knows exactly how to reassure him and he is so very happy to talk with her for just a few moments.

My brother arrives with dinner. With some nourishment and another familiar face, Dad is at peace and will be ready for bed soon. He struggles to converse with his boys and cannot really do so effectively. There are bits and fragments and we offer reassurance as best we can and encourage him to go to bed.
He is tired and needs some rest. Tomorrow I will try to get him to sleep more and rest up for Mom's return on Friday.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Cottonwood Reservoir with Dad

cottonwood

The alarm rings at ten minutes to five this morning, just ten minutes after my fast running biological clock wakes me up. I roll out of bed, spend a few minutes talking with God and then my brother who is reading scriptures at the dining room table, as is his habit. Next is my favorite time of the day. First a chapter or two in the Book of Mormon and then the same in the New Testament.

I think back to Sunday's priesthood meeting. The question is how can we best deal with the trials we face each day. No hands go up immediately. I offer this thought. Get up an hour or two before you must face the trials of the day. Spend time on your knees in prayer. Then spend time reading scriptures. It is the only formula I know that works.

Dad wakes at little before eight o'clock. He gets dressed and ready for the day. This takes some time. I note that he spends considerable time deciding what to do, how to dress, which article of clothing comes first. My inclination is to rush in and do it for him. Watching him struggle through something we all take for granted and never give a second thought is harder than helping. I feel it in my heart that I should sit on my hands and let him come to the answers on his own.

Mom plans to work out with physical therapy this morning before showering, so our plan is to arrive around eleven o'clock. We have time for a drive. I have spied an 80 acre parcel in Gusher for sale. It is a destination as good as any. We wind up driving two or three miles through a sand and sage track from the Gusher turnoff to Cottonwood Reservoir.

Dad and I agree that we have never been there. The dark water and the rushing sound of the stream running into it against the red sands and stone with the cold blue skies of a sunny winter day paint both of our faces with pleasure at the sight of such beauty.

We find the main road and make our way toward Vernal. A whisper in my mind tells me to turn around and head for the Villa to see Mom. We go up the hill east of Lapoint, turn around and head back to Roosevelt. Mom is glad to see us. We visit and eventually lunch is served which is our cue to make our exit and find an Arby's roast beef sandwich.

Today was a good day. It ends with a nap for both of us, leftovers with Dad and my brother sitting at the table. My mind is drawn to the blue cold waters of the Cottonwood Reservoir. There is peace in the babbling noise of the water running in. Listen and you will hear it.

The same is true of that still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. He will speak peace to your mind and fill your soul with love and appreciation for all of God's creations.

Tomorrow is a new day.

It's going to be great!

Dad, It is a Wonderful Life

DSC_6989sm

Today begins with a drive through the wintry mountains. I arrive in Roosevelt at about 11am, wash the truck and head to the Villa where Mom is doing rehab from hip replacement surgery. My sister and her husband, who have taken the weekend shift, arrive with Dad at the same time and we make a smooth handoff. I'm grateful for such wonderful siblings and their families.

Dad and I go out for a burger while Mom eats her nutritional but not very appetizing meal. After a short drive up to Cedar View and down through Hancock Cove, we return and continue our visit with Mom. My sister returns from the store with a few things Mom needs. As we leave, and several times before, Dad asks Mom when she's coming home. She reassures him that it will only be a few days. I see the disappointment in his eyes. He misses her but he clearly wants what is best for her and says okay.

We make the drive home. Once inside I read the Book of Mormon to Dad. I'm in Alma. He listens intently for several chapters. Moroni and Pahoran overcome the Kingmen and defend the freedom of their people. But soon the long shadows begin to appear in the windows, and Dad is eager to go check on things up at the corrals which now lay empty. The horses and cows he cared for his entire life are gone, sent to those who can better care for them now, but in his mind they are still there and need to be cared for.

We jump in the truck and drive up and around. Then we drive down the road. Every house is new. So many people have moved in. At least for Dad. It is better and more comforting for him to enter his world, seeing it as best I can imagine how he sees it. Everything that looks remotely new was not here the last time. It really doesn't matter that they've been there for years.

Upon our return we gaze out at the harvested field of corn as the resident herd of deer bound down off the red rock hills into the field to feast on the remains of the corn. We count fifteen then go in the house and Dad asks me if I live here. He is pleasantly surprised and seems to accept it when I tell him this is his house.
Soon after that my brother brings yummy chili which his youngest son has made. The three of us eat and enjoy the classic Jimmy Stewart movie It's a Wonderful Life.

Tomorrow is a new day or the same day.

And that's not just okay, it's wonderful, because it will be another day with my dad, exploring his world and visiting my mom as she heals and prepares to come home.

It is a wonderful life!