Madonna and Child

It was a day filled with meetings, more than usual.  Lucky me, I had time to squeeze in visits with couple of my elderly friends.

I planned to visit Andrew* in the nursing home first, then go through the connecting door to the assisted living building where his mother lives.  Andrew is almost 80 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease.  His mother Margaret is 100 years young and is in robust health, as healthy as you can get when you have lived for a century.  (She insists that potatoes are the secret.  I wonder; Weight Watchers designates them a power food.)

I found both of them in Andrew’s room along with his brother, and Margaret perched on the seat of her walker.  Good timing!  I could give them both communion, a rare opportunity.   Offering the sacrament to Andrew along with his mother somehow helped him focus.

It was a holy moment, made more so by the shared memories embedded in these two as they extended their time-worn hands for the wafer and cup.  Made holier by the painful reality of son suffering, mother still subconsciously charged with looking after her child.

He is meant to be taking care of her, we think.  It is the ironic reversal most families bear at this juncture.  And that is felt by Andrew’s wife and children.  This pair is an oddity, a fluke of health and disease unexpectedly borne.

No matter.  They sit quietly, mother searching for small talk that will connect with the boy she still sees in her mind’s eye.  He, groping too.  Perhaps the ideal setting for body and blood.  Brokenness is all that makes sense today.

*Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.

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