Written By: Patti Miller
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over 15 years ago. At first, he was just forgetful, less patient, and was stuck in the past more than the present. Over the years, I have watched the disease progress. Watching someone who once was self-sufficient change into someone who can’t tell you how old he is, what day of the week it is, what he would like to eat, and struggles to take care of his own basic needs is hard. Christ has taught me a lot of patience. With Christ walking beside me, I have endured many heartaches and hopeless feelings. For a long time, my dad could remember things from years ago like it was yesterday, but his short term memory got worse. Now he has very little short or long term memory left.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5)
My life growing up with my dad was not always easy for me. I had a lot of anger towards him. He was a strong-willed, stubborn man at times. But he also has a heart of gold. In my adult years, he stayed with me for extended periods, which allowed me to spend a lot of time with him. When I asked him for anything, if there was a way to help me, he would find it. He turned out to be a great source of support, and he was a wonderful grandfather to my children. Anytime someone asked him if it was hard raising four girls, he always said, “No, they never caused me any problems.”
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
My dad is a minister. When I was growing up, he traveled around preaching and evangelizing. He loved to share the message of Christ with anyone and everyone. Over the years, he led many to people to the Lord. I believe one of the hardest things he ever went through was when he could no longer preach. Until this last year, he attended church with me almost every Sunday, but because of his disease, we made the difficult decision that it was no longer possible. As hard as it has been to watch him over the past years, I have also been so very blessed. My dad recognizes me and my sisters (and our names) or at least the most important people in his life. He doesn’t always know who other people are, but he knows his family. My sisters and I have “church” with him via video chat. Although he can no longer find a scripture in the Bible, he loves when we read the Bible to him and will often quote the scriptures while doing so. My dad also loves to sing hymns. He knows the words to many of the old songs and sings them from his heart. A man who does not know what he did 15 minutes ago, knows God’s Word and sings his praises. God is good! My dad has told me he is ready to go to Heaven and see Jesus. I don’t know when that day will be, but when you know the people you love are going to Heaven, it is a wonderful feeling.
Finding blessings in hard situations is not easy. But they are there. When we stop and ask God to show us what they are, we will realize how many things we can truly be thankful for. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times, but without Christ, I cannot imagine what my life would be like. The joy of the Lord is my strength!
Written By: Patti Miller