96*

Betty’s 95th birthday.

Thursday, December 13, marks mom’s 96th birthday. God willing, I’ll be with her on that day, though the celebrating is likely to be low-key. Mom is confined to bed and sedated to mitigate pain and to control agitation. Still, if the milestone is reached, we will celebrate. Perhaps with a Hershey’s kiss. At this point, it’s the little things.

Mom and I talked often about “what comes next” for those who trust in Christ for salvation. Her time of reckoning came in the mid-seventies when the mother of my high school girl friend shared the gospel of Jesus which led to her (and my dad) receiving Christ as Savior soon afterward. Many of our talks in recent years have revolved around the central truth-claims of the Savior. Mom knows that her inherent sin, and her personal sins, were paid-for on the cross by the second Adam (Jesus) who was a proxy for us in this matter.

It is good now—given mom’s limited verbal capacity—that these conversations happened then. I can remind her of them. I can pray for her. But, the future for mom was sealed in the valley of decision some decades ago. What’s happening to her now is what was foretold in the Garden of Eden millennia ago. Mom is walking out the curse in the valley of the shadow of death—the appointed final steps taken by every person.

But, she knows that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So, as heartbreaking as the current scene is to observe, the end thereof is a major promotion. Mom gets to trade-in a decaying body that cannot get out of this thing alive. In return, she immediately enters a home prepared for her by the God who created the universe. She will have a different kind of body. Imperishable, to use the biblical term.

That’s very good news, at this very perishable moment.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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 where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. —John 14:1‭-‬6 NKJV

As I write this, mom is struggling mildly against some unforeseen thoughts flashing on the inner walls of her mind. I answer her if an answer seems called-for. But, mostly—like my brothers and sisters and family friends—I simply sit. And watch. And stroke her brow. And wipe her mouth. And pray.

What am I praying for at this point? That should be fairly obvious in light of the promises noted above and mom’s condition here below. Even so, I find comfort recalling the words of a friend describing his own mother’s walk through the same valley some years ago:

I know that God works in mysterious ways; so He must have had a reason for keeping Mom here [with Alzheimer’s] all these years. I don’t know what it is, but He must have had a reason; so I’m going with that

That is a profound truth. And, although the circumstances of my mother’s struggle are somewhat different, nevertheless I’m going with “that” as well.

_____
* I wrote the above piece on Monday evening, December 10, from mom’s care facility room. When it was time to go home I prayed over her, kissed her on the forehead, and departed. She was sleeping peacefully.

My wife just received a call from my brother. Mom entered into the rest of her eternity at 6:57 a.m., this morning (December 11). God has answered our prayers and mom’s birthday celebration will now be in Heaven.

We will miss you, Betty A. Kays.

ADDENDUM: A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 21, at Rose Hill’s Mortuary in Whittier. The service will begin at 11 a.m.

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