A good soul


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A good soul
By Bobby Neal Winters
Momma was a good cook. She could make a great roast beef with potatoes and gravy. She always made enough roast so as to have leftovers for roast beef sandwiches. They were the best too. She used both Miracle Whip and mustard.
She made the best fried chicken. She made flour gravy from the drippings and either fried potatoes or rice to put the gravy over.
Things have changed. Over a span of time, she has given up activities, has lost memories, has pulled into herself. She doesn't know that she has grandchildren; she doesn't remember my name.
Before thanksgiving she went into the nursing home.
My mother has been a good person. When Momma was a young girl, her Grandma Fowler lived with Momma's family. She and grandmother shared the same bed. Grandma Fowler had dementia like my mother does. Mother cleaned up her messes like you would for a baby. This is something I remember that my mother no longer can. There are so many things I remember now that she doesn't, things that never happened to me. She's given up her memories like she did cooking and housekeeping.
Her mother and father had four children together. She was the third, having an older brother and sister. Her younger brother had juvenile diabetes and she took care of him when he was young. He died soon after I was born, and I never knew him, but I remember him through her. She doesn't remember that he lived much less that he died.
Some of my earliest memories are of her taking me to church and Sunday School. I hated going to church. I despised it. She dressed me in paisley and bow-ties and shiny black shoes. Then she had to drag me, leaving heel marks along the sidewalk.
But some of my strongest memories are standing by her side singing some of those good old Baptist hymns. Precious memories, how they linger.
When I saw her a few weeks ago, I tried singing hymns with her. She didn't remember the words, but she tried to hum along.
Much has been taken. What is left?
She is still a sweet person. She laughs and has a ready smile. We are born; we spend the first part of our lives picking things up; we spend the rest putting them down. When we put them down, when we've lost our memories, what is left?
They debate nature versus nurture, genetic versus education, but there is so much more. We are a product of our times and culture. We are formed by our birth order and the other members of our family. We are receptacles for a spiritual heritage as well as a genetic heritage.
Momma told me that her mother, my Grandma Byrd, always used to say that life is like a vapor. Grandma Byrd died when I was three, so I never heard her say that. She was right though.
It's also like a drop of rain hitting a pond. It hits the pond and ripples go out in a circle forever. The drop itself disappears, is invisible, but remains nonetheless.
Some of us are taken suddenly; some of us are slowly withdrawn from life. We leave pieces of ourselves in those around us. Our memories, the memories of others passed through us. We are a part of something larger, but who are we?
My mother is a sweet person. After everything else is gone, that is what is left. One day what will be said of me?
(Bobby Winters is Assistant Dean and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.)
Thanks for sharing that with us, Okie.

Funny how, as a child, we look at life as being so long it will not end. As an adult, we wonder where life went?

It can be hard getting older...but as long as I still have my mind I refuse to grow up!
Okie your story affected me greatly and I would like to share my story please bear with me.. Im not the story teller you are :eek:

My grandfather passed away a couple years ago. After spending 15 years fighting heart disease he developed dementia. Towards the end he didnt remember much of anything.. he called my grandma " Wife" and didnt know my name either. He was like a child in the things he did. He always looked a little lost and bewildered. My grandma was having a really hard time with the whole thing because she had already raised 5 kids and had 13 grandchildren not to mention 8 great grandchildren. As a matter of fact towards the end of my grandfathers life my grandmother went into cardiac arrest and had to have a pace maker put it. My grandfather was sitting in the car and just watched her drop while others did CPR... He was completely helpless.. Imagine a 5 year old seeing something like this and the reaction they would have... that was my grandfather.

My grandfather had fought heart disease with such bravery and stubborness. He refused to let it beat him.. He had 3 open heart surgeries, Im sure at least one of those was a triple bypass, several close calls and I dont think he ever quit smoking the whole time. He was in World War 2 and was there at Normandy Beach on D-Day .. You think he would let something like heart disease kill him? No way!

The end came pretty quickly and I, in hindsight, can see God all over it. Remarkably, the heart disease didnt outright kill him.. He had gotten up to go to the bathroom one night and forgot to pull up his pants and he ended up tripping over them. He fell and broke his pelvic bone and because his heart wasnt in any condition for surgery they basically kept him drugged up till he passed away which took about 3 days. You might wonder how I could see God in this so I will tell you. It wasnt sudden so everyone was able to say their goodbyes including family that lived across the country and it gave my grandmother time to resolve herself.

My experience with my grandfather after the fall was beautiful because I sat there holding his hand and I was aware of how close he was to being face to face with the Lord that I wept. I wasnt grieving I was in awe. He wasnt the lost little boy/old man he was a precious soul on his way home and I was praising God. I looked down at my grandfather and I saw eyes that were very much aware of me filled with tears and his hand squeezing mine and he told me in my grandfathers voice..

" I see God in your eyes"

I will never forget those words.. and miraculously everyone in my family had an experience with my grandfather and not the little boy before he passed. His fragile broken mind didnt change who he was ...he was still there and God let his light shine some before calling him.

I think the dementia was a gift. It caused my grandmother to become too tired to try to keep my grandfather alive any longer and removed my grandfathers indomitable will to survive by removing his self from the picture.

Today, my grandma is loving life and she has lots of girlfriends and is constantly busy with church.. square dancing.. bingo.. Its a beautiful thing to see how much she loves and treasures life.

I think thats a gift too.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Okie.

Funny how, as a child, we look at life as being so long it will not end. As an adult, we wonder where life went?

It can be hard getting older...but as long as I still have my mind I refuse to grow up!

Growing old is inevitable.... Growing up is optional.
I think I've told you about my parents. Mom had the "good" dementia while dad had the "bad" dementia.

If you feel you need to talk, I think you have my e-mail address. I'll be the one "surrounded" by :kitty:s.

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine