“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:3-4 NASB)
My mother, Marian, blesses my life. She’s 97, has severe dementia, and lives in a skilled nursing facility. Her husband (my father, Dale) still lives in their one-bedroom independent living apartment. They’ve been living separately for the last five of their 67 years of marriage.
What does severe dementia mean? Short-term memory is shot. Long-term memory has winked out. But Mom is remarkable for what is present in her mind. It may be wiring that is deeper than memory. For example, although she hasn’t been near a horse in decades and no longer remembers her pony, Benny, from her childhood on the farm, she affirms, “Oh yes, I like horses.”
When I have Mom and Dad over for dinner, Mom is in a happy place. Sometimes she’ll painstakingly walk over to Dad’s chair, lean over, and say, “I love you.”
Mom hears me call Dad “Dad” while we’re all visiting. After a while, she turns to me in triumph and says, “He’s my dad!” I’ll gently correct her, “Oh, no, Mom, he’s my dad. He’s your husband. You’re my mom.” She’ll accept this with a sweet smile, as one who concedes but is not convinced. “Oh… oh, ok.” But the insight is new the very next minute: “He’s my dad!”
Then her thinking takes another tack. “I want to go with him. When he goes, I want to go with him.” No matter how many times I tell her, “Oh, Mom, I take you home,” or “I’m your chauffeur,” this home-going thought returns to her.
Mom is responding to a deeper truth than my facts. My facts are occasion-bound. Her truth is deep and concerns the cosmic oneness of man and wife. It’s a truth about home and homing in on where she belongs.
Then one day it hit me. I also want to “go with Him.” I also find myself homing in on a truth deeper than the facts of my life here in Redmond, USA, with my rippling circles of relationships from family to the world. As Jesus said, “You know the way where I am going.” Yes, I do know, but this knowing slips from my consciousness. Yes, I want to go with Him! I want to go to that place He has prepared for me, to that home deeper than my home here on earth.
Mom homes in on Dad, relentlessly! She’s all glorious yes, and I’m… no. She has the right idea, although I say no.
Jesus hasn’t given me permission to go home with Him yet, either. He says “no,” but there’s a glorious yes, peeking out from behind the clouds of that “no.” Isn’t my life hidden with Christ in God, as Paul says? (Colossians 3:3) And I can live in the knowing and the yearning that my home is there, a real life is there, that Jesus has made a true place, and that one day when the temporary arrangements come to an end, I will go with Him.
Jani can be reached by email here.