Thursday, March 14, 2013

Goin' home: A new perspective

Goodness gracious. How could it be that a month has passed since I last blogged. That almost puts me into the blogger wanna-be category. It's not that I don't want to write. It's simply that life gets complicated and filled to overflowing. There simply does not seem to be extra hours once all the "have-to" lists have been completed. Heavy sigh. But I'm pretty sure everyone out there has the same feeling.

So, let's see. What has happened as of late? My running quantity and consistency is going downhill. This has led to an increase in a few pounds, which makes me feel even more puny when I do run. Teaching continues to be rewarding yet time-consuming in preparation. Coaching is demanding but I feel more well-equipped from having sat through a USATF certification course. My book has been released and seems to be well-received. And yet, there is much to do in terms of getting out the word.

And then there was my trip north to spend a few days with my mom. Talk about putting things in perspective! Mother will be 85 this month, as hard as that is to believe. She has always been a go-getter, an endless reservoir of energy and determination. She raised four kids, cooked, sewed, kept house, gardened, was music director at church for decades, played tennis, and learned the intricacies of finance when my father died twenty-six years ago. After moving into the independent living retirement community six years ago, she continued well-doing. She wrote and published a book, writes encouragements to countless missionaries, opens her home to guests, and laboriously leads the cancer support group she established years ago after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

But something was different this time when I walked through the door. My wonderful mother looked tired, worn, her frame shrunken from further compression of her spine. She tried to put on a happy face but I could tell she was worried. She was having a hard time catching her breath, her energy waning. She even contemplated a trip to the hospital since she was fearing another round of severe anemia. With a home test kit for hemoglobin, we were able to ally that fear. Still, I could tell she was not well.

Over the course of my three-day stay, Mother bounced back a little, though she still had to stop and catch her breath when walking to the car or down the long hallways. She also worried about having to take so much Tylenol to help with her arthritis pain. So I was glad to help her with the once-every-three-month shopping trip to Wal-Mart, a chore she found nearly impossible by herself. With a bad shoulder and arthritis, it is difficult to lift and load heavy items like laundry detergent. And dragging all the purchases in her rolling shopping cart up the incline leading into her building is exhausting. I was delighted to lighten her load.

It's hard to see my mom decline in health. She said, "I don't know how to get old." Who does? It's a learn-as-you-go kind of event. There's no school that teaches the subject. Even at 56, I get frustrated at my own decreasing abilities. I can't imagine what an additional 29 years will do to me.

But my gracious, kind, compassionate, Spirit-filled Mother bravely continues on. She doesn't understand the other residents who seem to have time to play bridge and put together jigsaw puzzles. She has planning to do, correspondence to write, phone calls to make to hundreds of cancer patients, and hours of praying time while sitting atop her exercise bike or at the study table in the sun-room. She reads multiple books at a time, taking notes in the margins. Her time in the Word is much more than a cursory reading of a few verses. She drives herself (and two other seniors) to church whenever the doors are open. She organizes and records nearly everything she does, three-ring notebooks filling her office. Mother will rest after lunch for thirty minutes and then relentlessly pursue her passions, even when she doesn't feel like it. Even on one of her bad days, she makes me feel like a weenie.

On the last night of my visit, we sat down to watch a concert performance of David Phelps. To say this tenor is an amazing artist would be an understatement. Over hot cups of tea and a little snack, we were overwhelmed by the melodies, lofting, swelling, and penetrating the soul. But on the last song, I looked over at Mother. Her wiggling nose gave away the tears that followed. The orchestra began to play the haunting tune and Mr. Phelps sang these words of an old negro spiritual: (Video link)

"Goin' home, goin' home, I am goin' home
Quiet-like, some still day, I'll be going home
It's not far, just close by, through an open door
Work all done, care laid by, goin' to fear no more
Mother's there expecting me, father's waiting too
Lots of folks gathered there, all the friends I knew
Nothing lost, all's gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbing on the way
No more longing for the day
Goin' to roam no more.
Morning star lights the way, rewtless dreams all done
Shadows gone, break of day, real life just begun
There's no break, there's no end, I'll be living on
Wide awake, with a smile goin' on and on
Goin' home, goin' home, I'm just going home
It's not far, just close by, through an open door
I'll be goin' home
I'll be goin' home
I'm goin' home
I'm goin' home
Lord, I'm goin' home.

By the time it was over, tears obscured my vision, my mother's as well. But through those clouded eyes I saw for the first time how tired she was, how ready she was to join my father, my grandmother, my grandfather, her brother, her two little babies that died before they were born. Though I don't want her to rush off (Lord, no!), I began to understand. I saw heaven in a whole new way. My perspective has changed.

I love you, Mother.


Rick Gray said...

I don't quite know what to say, but I do know your Mom does not fear death, but anxiously awaits that day when she can see our loving God and all those that have gone before her. Until God is finished with her her on earth, her life has and will continue to be a blessing to us all.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Amen to that. There is no greater example of a Godly woman than my dear mother!

Kelly said...

Well said! I have tears in my eyes. I think you and your mom must be a lot alike. And some of David Phelps singing brings me to tears as well. He certainly has a gift!

Take care -- take a deep breath - and don't be so hard on yourself. How wonderful to know your mom is praying for you too.

Maggie Brendan said...

David is awesome. I've met him and he was our guest for a fund raiser that I was involved with for our pastor's radio ministry. He was also a guest at my church a couple of times. There's no one like him. Incredible voice!!

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Hi Maggie- I've never had the pleasure but I was so impressed with not only his singing but the way he interviewed. Seems like a great guy with a wonderful, talented family.

Thanks for stopping by!

Follow the yellow lines

Jack in his younger days "Well, you know I can't live here by myself. I'm moving in with you." I guess he was serious....