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Commodes, Coyotes and Communicating with God...

"I knew you would come. I couldn't get my phone to work so I just prayed you here."

Dementia may take its toll on my mother's ability to navigate her cell phone but it certainly hasn't taken her faith.  One of the gifts of Dementia for my mother has been opening her "faith box" and finding exactly what she was looking for.  Prayer has become mom's go to method for communicating her needs and she repeatedly finds those needs met as a result. 

I don't remember what my mom needed that day.  It wasn't me who received the "phone call".  It was in the middle of my daughter's softball game somewhere between 2nd and 3rd base at Short that the call came through to her. The message was quiet but clear... "I need you."  In actual fact, she simply stated that during the game she got the feeling we needed to check on grandma.  So we did.  

It would only be a month later that I would experience my mother's communications with God in a much more personal manner.  She had fallen which put her in the hospital for a few days. She was back in her little apartment but required 24 hour care and supervision. Not wanting to disturb my sleep ( I was lying in bed next to her) she decided to get out of bed and use the comode sitting next to it without my assistnance. She simply could not remember nor understnd why her legs weren't working properly.  She fell.  

She wasn't injured but she was sure that she was paralyzed and I could not lift her dead weight without some assistance from her.  Thus we found ourselves  laying on the floor between the bed and the commode at 2:00 a.m.  30 minutes later I was exhausted from multiple attempts at lifting her and frustrated at her adamant belief she was unable to use her legs.

"Mom, your legs work!  I cannot lift you on my own!  Please, I need your help."  Silence was her answer in return...or so I thought.  She was not quite silent.  I leaned in close to hear her.  "Please God, please.  I am paralyzed.  Brenda needs my help.  Please, let me use my legs to help her.  Please make my legs work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."    My heart was instantly softened.  More, importantly, the simultaneous urge to once again use the commode was all that it took for her to once again have the use of her legs.  A coincidence? Some who read this will say that absolutely it was. I'm here to tell you it was not. It was plain and simple an answer to her humble plea. 

I have reflected on these events multiple times over the past two months as mom's physical and mental capabilities continue to decline at rapid rate.  I have noted the sincerity and humility and trust she now gives to god without hesitation.  There are no alternatives for her, no "handling the situation myself" possibilities.  A quiet calm can be seen in her eyes as fear retreats when Peace arrives to answer her call.

I have asked myself - would that be enough for me?  Could I accept an "everything will be alright" answer when I had asked for "details please...details!"  Perhaps, therein lies my answer - she no longer can take in the details - and so she more readily recognizes Peace as all the answer she needs.  

Over the past couple of months it became more and more apparent that my mom's physical and mental decline would require that she continue to have constant care. As a family we debated if it is was possible for us to begin that piece of her journey in our home. Where was our answer?  As we step into the unknown - will the path before us be illuminated? As I daily mourn the loss of my mother and work to welcome a stranger into my life - will I have the patience and compassion required?  Where were the answers I was seeking?  

That night next to the commode with my mother I realized that all of those questions and more had been bouncing around in my mind and yet I could not remember actually making a call to God.  A real call. A conversation.  I was and still am keenly aware of the fact that He is mindful of me and my needs - then why require that I literally ask?  He already knows what I need? I know what I need -  Answers!  Details! I don't have time for a conversation - just tell me what to do and how to get it done!  

It was time to make a call of my own.  I complained, shared my desires, whispered my fears and waited for a reply.  It came. It was exactly what I needed in order to clear my mind for the details which would follow in the coming weeks.  At some point before I even opened my eyes Peace had entered the room and snuggled right down next me on the floor.  "Everything will be all right."  

I still draw strength from that call when my quest for details weighs me down.

Three years ago I pushed "publish" and my first post was out there for the world to see.  That was preceded by another time of turmoil as I searched for answers (actually details) to moving forward in my personal life. Looking back now I can see that once again I equated my constant mental energy as enough of a "conversation."  I had plenty of answers - all of which included something I had no time for - writing.  Looking back on that post I was reminded that life's details would have kept me from moving forward many times.

Over the course of several weeks I would cross paths with a coyote. Yes, a coyote.  Standing in the distance looking at me again...and again...and again.  It became such a weird experience that I googled "What is the meaning of Coyote sightings?"  This was the answer I found

"The sighting of the Coyote was said to bring natural shifts in balance, causing an end (which, of course, simply makes way for new beginnings, and so on).  Essentially, the Coyote is like a "way maker" of new direction as it went about its symbolic role of representing the cycle of life/death in nature."  

I was at first embarrassed to admit that I was considering giving merit to this coyote in my life.   I shared the experience with my children and my husband because they were with me for two of the coyote crossings. They didn't seem too surprised by my thoughts (I wasn't sure I appreciated that at the time). I also shared with a girlfriend - just to check my sanity - and she said "I don't know about Coyotes.  But I do know that God has the ability to use whatever means he needs to in order to get your attention."  I have never forgotten her words.  In order to get your attention.  I have also remembered the summertime Coyotes which moved me forward with my writing not so long ago.  Her words, and the Coyotes, were all the detail that I really needed.  

There were no more Coyote sightings over the next three years. It's not that I didn't see the occasional coyote.  I did.  However, they were not looking at me - dare I say looking for me?  I would watch it walking across a distant field, waiting for it to glance my way.  Then feel silly for the thought.

That was until just three weeks ago.  

We knew we had only a small window of opportunity if we were to make the cross country trip to Wyoming for my mother to see her sister one last time. I picked a week for the trip that worked well with my life schedule. It was the perfect time to go, the work week was quiet, my son and daughter were both available to help with my mom, and it would leave 10 days before school started when we got home,  Perfect.  And yet, nothing fell into place for our travel and mom was having an extra hard week.  I let it go.  We would not make the trip.  There just wasn't enough time left.  

When my husband called me on that following, very busy Saturday and told me "You need to take your mom on Monday."  I actually yelled at him "Is God telling you this?!  This will be such a difficult trip now - God better have been the one to tell you that!"  As my answer reveals I had not been in the best space on a daily basis for my own God telling moments.

My son and I left on Monday for Wyoming.  We would arrive on Aunt Lou's 86th birthday. (A date we were unaware of)  Three other family members including two grandchildren would return from extended trips out of state the following day (Something we were unaware of.)  

Brian met up with us on Thursday.  That evening he asked me if I had seen any Coyotes this trip.  He was teasing me, but I felt something more in his words -  a belief that we were on more than a visit to see my Aunt. 

We were to visit Medicine Wheel, a sacred Native American site high atop the Big Horns.  It is now a National Historical Landmark.  It wasn't registered as such until 1969.  In the early 1930's when my mother lived "just down the hill" and played amongst those sacred stones on summer days there were no roads, gates, or fences.  She was just a child then. She would spend hours searching for just the right stones to replace those removed over the centuries.   Believed to be at least 700 years old, this medicine wheel has long been a place of meditation, vision quests, and prayer.  She was unaware as a child that she shared such a special connection with the great chiefs and warriors seeking guidance in the past.  It was there she would sit in the center cairn, seemingly atop of the world, she would close her eyes and try to imagine her place in such a vast landscape.   I imagined my mother's childhood whisper in the summer breeze "Hello....do you hear me?" 

As mom shared her childhood stories of "restoring this old wheel" with the rangers and a couple visiting from Australia, we all could feel her joy in returning.  "It's a good thing you didn't come last week," the Ranger remarked, "the site was closed for Native American ceremonies."  (Once again, something we were unaware of...I was beginning to sense a pattern of "coincidences" here.)

As we re-visited my mother's youth in the remote wilderness of the Big Horn and Pryor Mountains, we saw the places she now retreats to in her memories, we were also witness to the constant grandeur and peace of nature unchanged in nearly 80 years.  Our last day before heading home we drove 45 miles along dirt roads that much of the year are still inaccessible, where outlaws and homesteaders once found refuge, and wild horses and buffalos to this day run free. There my mom sat in the front seat of the pickup looking down upon the remains of the remote ranch that at age seventeen she had hated in the mountains that she loved.

The place where she pleaded for details in her life journey and recieved the answer "Everything will be all right." 80 years ago she answered back "Your damn right it will - I will make sure of that!"  Her road through life was much like the one we drove to get there.  Rough, rutted, and full of dips and climbs.

Now her response to that same answer is seen in her eyes...

"So good to hear from you.  Can you visit for awhile?"  

We had just made the turn for home when my cousin said "Will you look at that? Just standing there - like he wants to make sure we see him."  

There in the tall grass was a Coyote.

 My answer.  No details needed.  

We are riding life off road these days.








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