He was standing in front of his closet, disoriented and disheveled, not able to remember why he was there and struggling for a moment to recognize his son at the door. I was more a distraction than a welcome visitor but he finally nodded in response to my greeting and focused once again on his original purpose, which was long gone and far away.
The struggle of this particular visit was his momentary return to that small part of himself that still remained: his singing. The man loved to sing! And, without regard to his probably-forgotten audience, he sang with a polished pitch and a quality of tone I have always envied, filling the small nursing home room with a tender rendition of “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”
This is my father now. Time and toil have worn him down, mentally as well as physically. It has been difficult to adapt, especially because changes come so much faster as we get older; or so it seems. Change is inevitable, and that is really not the point, it is the fact that relationships change with time. What we were once able to enjoy dies and, in its place, there is the recurring frustration of dealing with life’s limitations. That alone is enough to wear us out. Maybe Dad is just tired.
However, God my Father is always there, tirelessly watching over me even when I fear His absence (Job 29:2). He never changes (Malachi 3:6). He will always know me (John 10:14). He will always love me (John 3:16). He will always be there for me (Hebrews 13:5). He will always care about me (1 Peter 5:7). The only direction our relationship will go is up, better, stronger, closer and forever.
I love my father and I know he loved me but, realistically, Alzheimer’s has taken Dad from me; the man in room 10 down hallway “A” at the nursing home is barely my father anymore. But, my Father sees, and He comforts me with the promise of a timeless eternity where love never dies.