>Today is a very sad day. Today my parents and my older sister and I will move my younger sister to the dementia unit of a nursing home.
My younger sister has Down Syndrome. She was a sweet little sister with a cheerful spirit and a cooperative disposition. It was difficult for her to frame her limited vocabulary, but she could rattle off the birthdays and ages of anyone in the family. Even when her siblings married and had children, she knew the birthdays and ages of every family member better than I did!
With medical advances, Down Syndrome folks are living longer than in the past. And as they live longer, it’s becoming apparent that many of them struggle with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, my sweet sister is one of those.
She was living in a group home where the staff made every effort to cope with her steadily increasing symptoms over the last few years, but this week she began wandering. One night she was found in the backyard. One afternoon she was in the neighbor’s flower bed, trying to pick flowers. She left the house multiple times each day, in spite of alarms on the doors. She didn’t stop or look before crossing a busy street, and staff members had all they could do to catch her in time. It became obvious to staff and family that the group home living situation was no longer viable.
And so, today we move her to a nursing home. It’s a very sad day for all of us. We know she will not understand and will not be happy. It is very difficult for my mother. How many mothers have to bring their daughters to a nursing home? My heart aches for her. And my heart aches for my sister.
Remembering my sister’s previous compliant spirit seems to make it more difficult because there is such a radical difference between her normal personality and her current personality.
I eagerly anticipate the day when her body and mind will be not merely restored, but perfectly renewed.
I cling to the promise of 1 Corinthians 15:42-49:
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
As I help move my sister today and try to help my family deal with her distress and our own, I will remember not only her former cheerful and compliant spirit, but also that her body and mind will one day be made perfect.
Then she and I will sit down and have a good talk. What a glad day that will be!