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“Very Well”

One of the greatest rewards of the work I do is to journey with a client and their family through a season of their life and know that somehow – whether great or small, I have made a difference. When I was asked by a family to speak at their Mother’s celebration of life last year, it was my honour to do so. I share an excerpt of my tribute in her remembrance.

I began caring for ‘Miss Lydia’ four years ago. I recall instantly having affection toward her. She was easy to get along with – gentle, peaceful and surprisingly independent at 91. It wasn’t long before we established our own style of interaction and ‘inside jokes’. Upon every visit, our conversation would go like this:

“Good morning Miss Lydia.”

“Good morning Gale.”

“How are you doing?”

“Not too bad.” Without fail, on both the good days and the bad, her response would be the same – “not too bad.”

I enjoyed our time together, looking through her photo albums, listening to her stories of long ago and edifying one another through prayer and God’s word. And despite signs of Alzheimer’s, she remembered scripture. Just before Easter, she began to recite –

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him.”

… it took me a minute to find the verses coming to her mind and spirit, and when I could catch up with her in Isaiah 53, we continued the remaining verses together…

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed”. (Isaiah 53:3-5)

Truly amazing. I was reminded that day – although our outer man is perishing yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16)

During her final weeks, Miss Lydia’s decline was evident. Her family took great care to ensure her comfort and wellbeing. Upon my visits, I would begin our conversation:

“Good morning Miss Lydia”. A few times, with eyes closed, she would breathlessly attempt “Good morning Gale”, other times silence. Nevertheless, I continued –

“How are you doing?” Again, sometimes “not too bad”, sometimes no response. Whether stated audibly or not, I knew she had responded the same as always.

During my last visit before her death, I wet her tongue with a few spoonfuls of coconut water. This time her response was clear – “thanks”.

Even until the end, Miss Lydia was full of grace. I cared for her like my own mother. And, from time to time, even now, I look heavenward and continue our conversation:

“Good morning Miss Lydia.”

In my heart I hear her response, “Good morning Gale”.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

Now… in the presence of the Lord, she responds – “Very well”.