Thursday, April 28, 2016

Former Days

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. Ecclesiastes 7:10
In other words...
Do not ask, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Here lately, I find it hard to apply this Biblical wisdom to my life. 
During the last few months, my heart has been so heavily burdened. My daddy has been suffering from a sudden onset of  mental illness. He was diagnosed with dementia in conjunction with delirium and occasional outbursts of delusions and violence. 
It has been so heartbreaking.  The saddest part of his illness is that he is at a level of the disease where he seems to have "normal" moments, but then he "snaps".  If he was just confused but easily calmed, we could take care of him.  As it is, he has moments when his delusions cause him to act out and even hit people.  According to the specialists, people with dementia tend to act out at those closes to them, so his aggression is often times directed towards Mama. Therefore, he is unable to come home. 
Our family has been taking each day as it comes. The days are often filled with grief, memories, pain, and moments when it's hard to breathe.
 It is so difficult to deal with mental illness because, although Daddy is still here with us, we feel such a loss. 
 We're praying for God to do "something".
  The last few months have been a roller coaster.  We have prayed one thing and then another.
 I think that we have now anchored ship in the middle of this storm, and we're just holding on.
 Below is part of a daily devotion that my husband read to me and Mama several days ago.
"In fierce storms," said an old seaman, "we must do one thing; there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there."
And this, dear Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you cannot see the sun or stars to help you navigate when the storm is baring down on you. This is when you can do only one thing, for there is only one way.
Reason cannot help you, past experiences will shed no light, and even prayer will bring no consolation. Only one course remains: You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord. And then, come what may-- whether winds, waves, rough seas, thunder, lightning, jagged rocks, or roaring breakers--you must lash yourself to the helm, firmly holding your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant promises, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. --Richard Fuller

Yes, this is true. However, it is extremely difficult being pounded by fierce storms.  Our hearts ache for Daddy, and we wonder what torments he is going through.
  We want to help him and care for him, but our hands are tied.
It is in this mind frame of complete devastation that I look back on the former days and recall just how great they were.
It seems like another lifetime ago, but I reminisce about  years filled with precious memories.
From a child's point of view, life was simple.
Mama and Daddy were always home.  We always had family meals.  I remember my brother acting crazy at the supper table one evening, and Daddy sternly told him to act like a human.  He then replied, "Act like a WHO man?"  It was a good laugh then and years later.  The old homeplace doesn't seem the same.
  My brother and I rode bicycles in the yard all day long.  We made ramps out of boards and bricks.  Nothing was ever wrong with Mama or Daddy.  They were permanent fixtures of  security.  We never worried.  Summer heat was never a problem.  A huge window fan kept our home cool during the day and it would run us under the covers at night.  Yes, we slept with our windows open.
  I can still see my backyard as it was when I was a child pulling back my curtains before bedtime. I remember the song of a Whip-poor-will outside my window.  Days were filled with bike riding or making rope swings.  I remember freshly plowed fields and dirt bomb wars with my brother. I can still remember the smell of that dirt and how hot it was under my bare feet.  We splashed under a water hose that we had to bend to make spray.  We pulled each other in an old rusty wagon, or we'd hooked it to a bicycle.  We ate blackberries.  We played in the pond.  We caught turtles and tadpoles.  Dad took my brother frog gigging.  Our family fished together.  
 At the end of each day, Mama and Daddy were always there. 
Many summer days were filled with the task of shelling and putting up peas.  It was like a holiday when Mama and Daddy  turned on the huge air conditioning unit in the kitchen.  This was the only occasions I ever remember the air conditioner running.
 It made shelling peas an exciting time. Mama would spread a big sheet over the kitchen table, and buckets of warm peas, straight out of the field, would be piled on top of the table.  Putting up corn was much the same.  Daddy would be at the stove boiling corn and mama would be creaming it. If all the corn was shucked and cleaned, my brother and I would bring our blankets and pillows into the kitchen and lie down on the floor enjoying the special air condition day while we watched Mama ad Daddy putting up corn.  
Those were such good days.
I remember the days turning colder.
With Mama and Daddy, we would rake yards and
 burn limbs.
To this day,  I love the smell of burning limbs and leaves.
It always triggers a memory of a certain evening, just before dark, when we were all still in the yard burning piles of limbs.
Fall was always an exciting time because we began looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
Mama and Daddy always seen to it that we had the very best holidays.  I remember lying under the live Christmas Tree looking up at all the lights.  On one of our four television channels, we would watch holiday specials like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as a family.  
My brother and I never had a care because Mama and Daddy were always there.
These memories keep flooding my mind.
 I miss the days when I never worried about Mama or Daddy.  I miss home the way it was.
  I miss my parents' youth.
 I miss my youth.
I can't believe how sudden Daddy's mental health changed.  He isn't that old. Mama, other than worrying about Daddy, is doing fine.  All the hurt and stress does take a toll on her though.
  I miss the way life was just this past December.
 Life can change in a heartbeat.  It sure has for us.
I suppose the Bible tells us that it is not wise to ask why the former days were better than these because it makes a person sad.
Life is often times sad though.
  I just can't help to dwell on yesterday when today seems so hard. 
It seems here lately that most anything can trigger a memory.
 While driving today, I passed what looked to be a wild plum tree.  We use to call them "Hog Plums".  Immediately, I was taken back to the hot summer days when I would eat my weight in delicious little plums.
  I was reminiscing about all those carefree days when Mama and Daddy seemed invincible.   
We can't go back.
  If the good Lord wills, tomorrow is another day.
 I know He holds our future.  I know He is at work in my family, and the Anchor is holding us through this storm.  Sometimes you just have to cry during the storm, and think back on the days of smooth sailing.
I don't know what this life holds for me or my family.
 I don't know God's plans for my precious Daddy.
  I know life is a vapor, and one day all this pain will be no more. 
Eternity is coming!
 And when that day comes, we will never again look back at the former days. 

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