Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Alzheimer's: A Guest Article by Debbie Chase

I attended the funeral this week of one of our church members, Don Bird, who had battled Alzheimer's for several years. His daughter, Debbie Chase, bravely stood to Eulogize him. She encouraged us all even while she was grieving. I asked if she would mind me posting her words.

Thank you Debbie. Your words cheered me this week. My family and I watch and pray as my mother, slips away slowly into this terrible disease.

Dear Alzheimer’s,


Heaven called and I have my Dad back.

What a brutal journey you have taken us down these past 5 ¾ years…well, for my Mom, much more than that. No phase of your disease is tolerable except hopefully at some point for the primary victim. As for his loved ones, your path seems merciless and hopeless for about every step of the way. Not only does it take your victim captive but it seeks to consume their loved ones lives, as well. But you know what? You didn’t win.

Before I go on, let me tell you about, Mr. Donald Elmer Bird, Sr., the source of my other 23 chromosomes. The man I got to call my “hero, “ my “sucker,” my Daddy. I was his “Deb,” his “number 2” (that sounded more funny to us than “number 4”), and teasingly and enduringly he called me “son.” I was his baby girl who had him wrapped around both of my pinkies. He knew it, too, and we loved it.

He taught me how to be treated like a lady and how boys were to treat me. Never should I call them nor ever respond to a honk from the driveway. He also advised me, too, that I needed to let them win every now and then in games like bowling, miniature golf, billiards, arm wrestling, etc… Thunder and lightening I never feared. I’d run to my Dad’s side of the bed where he’d safely tuck me in with him not minding my freezing cold feet either. A few years ago, though, he did tell me I needed to get back home to Chris.

He taught me obedience and to NEVER mess with my Mother. He also had zero tolerance for lying and I’m so thankful he did.

My Dad was funny and fun loving and quite the prankster. Also, very clever and witty the way he’d fake losing the breaks down Melody Lane or stop the car half way to elementary school and just tell my little cousin that he couldn’t take her any further she needed to walk the rest of the way. I would just smile (with a quiet giggle, too) and tell her to close the door that she doesn’t have to get out.

Oh man, and he could run SOOO fast! I could never out run him. I just had to collapse, ball up, squeal and surrender when the chase was on.

I witnessed the generosity of my Dad time after time after time. Sooo many people who benefited from his outpouring of kindness and help.

My Dad was so ingenious! He could fix just about anything…even if it did require getting on the roof when the garbage disposal messed up. I still don’t quite understand that, but I knew he knew what he was doing. I do know that McGuyver could’ve definitely learned a few things from Don McBird.

My first car was a 1966 Corvair which he totally renovated for me. Any flat tire, fender bender, or problems with my car all I had to do was shout (literally one time across Ringgold Rd) and my Dad came to my rescue. My friends even inquired upon his car expertise and knowledge and loved their “Don Bird discount and treatment.”

My Dad taught me to drive a car when I was still in grade school (well, steer one that is). What a treat it was driving on the S curves, the highway and Dodds Avenue. Just kidding. He was so patient with me when I thought it was fun to hit the potholes. He also was the one who taught me how to drive a stick shift. We agreed that every girl needs to be able to do that! I backed up Cloud Springs Rd one time in a camero from Newton. Soooo patient as he bit through his cigar waiting for me to hit the sweet spot with the clutch and gear. Whiplash anyone? He never complained.

Forget about trying to beat him at dominos or Rook. He would have everyone’s hand figured out in no time. I can still hear his “ooooooohhhh” or “waddya gonna do now?”

Oh, and he was a stickler on curfew!!!

Most importantly, he set the example and gave me a compass on the importance of need of being in God’s house for worship. I can still hear his little off tuned singing as he joyfully sang to God. I felt his security there literally one Sunday as he lasered his eyes through me as the last warning of writing and passing notes in church. Whew, thank you Brother Bill for that wonderful message on mercy that time. Thy rod was certainly spareth that day!

With tears in his eyes my Dad handed me over to Chris Chase nearly 15 years ago. Do you think those were tears of relief? He loved my husband and always encouraged me to stick it out, make peace, or whatever possible whenever we’d get in a spat. My husband had a super great Father in Law in my opinion, but hey, I’m a little biased, eh?

My Daddy was at the foot of my gurney in the e.r. when I found out we were finally pregnant after such a yucky battle with infertility. He also was my personal chauffer to nearly every doctor’s appointments and of course, Hardees gravy and biscuit runs, too. All I had to do was shout and he’d be there. I am so blessed too, to see right before my eyes this Daddy Daughter bond and blessing being carried on. I am able to pass the baton so to speak and watch my joy and adoration through my own daughters’ little eyes continue on. Such an incredible thing…and I know it will help bridge that sense of loss to the reunion that awaits.

Oh, he loved his grandchildren and was so very proud of them. I look forward to our girls getting to meet him again and remembering what an incredible Gramps he was. One of Abbie’s little hands would shoot straight to his hair and the other hand with her thumb to her mouth. I’m thankful for the photos where they can see the kid in my Dad playing with them to see the one who was the source of their very 1st baby dolls and the latest and greatest baby and toddler gadgets. Such a great Gramps and so very loved. Dad would always say “you couldn’t give me a million trillion dollars for either one of these 2”….”I’d hate to EVER have to be a judge and judge between the 2 of them!”

That’s just a little bit about my Daddy. He wasn’t perfect nor was he meant to or could’ve been. But he was consistent, persistent, and loving and so caring. I was sooo blessed to have him for my 43 years.

So back to you, Alzheimer’s and your destructive path and net you lay for your prey.

I’m very blessed and pleased to inform you that you have lost:

In the ashes, I saw beauty.
In the restlessness and helplessness, I saw the treasure in being still.
In the tears, I saw cleansing.
In the longevity, I saw healing.
In the doubt, I saw consistent hope.
In the pain, I saw refining.
In the separation I saw cleaving.
In the loneliness, I saw bear hugs and comfort
In the lack of control and anxiety, I saw surrender.
In the sorrow would you believe I saw laughter…well, that’s a given with my Daddy.
In the darkness there was always light.
In the not knowing, I saw trust.
In the what if’s, I saw countless provisions over and over again.
At the brick walls, there was always that gentle perfectly timed guidance to those doorknobs in the darkness to the way.

I don’t know if us humans will ever be able to prevent or cure you one day. But I do know your sting had no power or potency. Because He who is in my Daddy already blew your socks off a long time ago.

You may have stolen away dear time from my Dad and us but you did NOT succeed in destroying us. My Daddy is complete again. He’s HEALED! Ridden from the chains and venom of you, whole and healthy, clear headed and vibrant and young again. And I know I will see him again. It’s not so much about the departure as it is about the destination. Such a verrrrrrrrry looooong goodbye but I know, I know the divine and heavenly station where my Daddy has finally arrived.

So, poo-y on you Alzheimer’s. And thank you in a non-twisted sort of way for the ride.

Sincerely,
Debbie Chase




I came across John 21:18 one day where Jesus was speaking to Peter letting him know what kind of death he would have to glorify God I got chills and couldn’t help but think of my Dad: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” So, Daddy, my courageous warrior and instrument, God accomplished amazing things through you in this awful disease. Too many to try to explain or I’d be going through another ream of paper and several boxes of Kleenex.

I tell you one thing, my Dad’s hero status through this has now been transferred accordingly to The true Hero, Jesus, and to the human hero, my husband as divinely designed. You know, God even had already lined up another earthly Daddy whom He had set up for me 4 years before this happened in the form of my next door neighbor. God is SOOOO good…He goes before us, with us, behind us, beside us and every which way in between. And now my Dad is in His glorious Presence face to face. How awesome is that?

For those of you going through this terrible disease I am so sorry. I tell you there is hope, strength, joy and peace in this nightmare storm. But in order for any of this to behoove you greatly you’re going to need that Someone far greater than anything or anyone in this world to carry you through. I pray that you have that cure already or God grants you the gift of that cure for all ailments. God will provide all your needs in anything and He’ll NEVER leave you or forsake you, let you down or change His mind and he ALWAYS keeps His promises. He is the true source of healing, ceaseless loving kindness, mercy and grace and clean states. And He’s an endless source in Mulligans. He’s got your back, front, sides-in and out and so on.

So…To God be the glory, forever and ever AMEN! And thank You, Father, for my Daddy. He has been such a trooper! What a man! I so look forward to being back in your arms that one fine day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grateful

Thanks for your prayers, cards and letters, calls, fb posts, and emails. God has answered with successful surgery. Here's the story in a nutshell: Before Christmas, I fell on some black ice on the porchsteps. The doctor said there was a big tear in my rotator cuff and he also found a torn bicep. He said recovery would be a little longer than usual, but if I keep my arm in the sling for 6 weeks and do my rehab, there is a really good chance I will recover full use and strength in that arm. Please keep praying for Anita as she has to put up with me in my recovery.

What Does It Mean to Look for God Wholeheartedly?

God tells us to look for Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:13-14b (NLT) says “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

There is something about wholehearted living that allows us to find God. The problem is when we sin we are filled with shame and we try to hide from God, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they committed the first sin. Our wholeheartedness is compromised because we try to hide behind so many things in our shame. We only want to reveal parts of our heart, only parts of our true self. When we do, we give up some intimacy with God.

Jesus died for our sins and allows us to appear before God as righteous and worthy. But we still live as though we are not worthy of God's love and we cover up the shameful parts of us pretending we have no sin. The problem is, even as believers we miss out on the blessings of wholehearted living when we try to hide our authentic selves from God and other people.

In her book, The Gifts of Insecurity, Shame Researcher, Brene' Brown, comes up with a list of do's and don'ts of people who live wholeheartedly. She says the people who live wholeheartedly Do: have a sense of their own worth (I, {Bill} believe we get this from our saving relationship with Jesus), have a rhythm of rest in their life (like a Sabbath rest), make time to play, trust, have faith, have some intuition, have hope, have authenticity, have love, have a sense of belonging, have joy, have gratitude, have creativity.

The don't list for wholehearted "livers" includes: perfectionism, numbing or self-escaping or self-medicating or addicting behaviors, working to exhaustion, self-sufficiency (I can do this all by myself, I don't need anyone), being cool, fitting in, judgmental, live with a sense of scarcity (as opposed to plenty).

Brene' Brown said when she first discovered these truths in her research she says, "'I remember at one point I was actually sitting there with tears in my eyes and my hand across my mouth, like someone had just delivered bad news.' And, in fact, it was bad news. I thought I'd find that wholehearted people were just like me and doing all the same things I was doing: working hard, following the rules, doing it until I got it right, always trying to know myself better, raising my kids exactly by the books…After studying tough topics like shame for a decade, I truly believed that I deserved confirmation that I was 'living right.' But here's the tough lesson that I learned that day (and every day since): How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves."

Jesus says, love your neighbor as yourself. If you can't love your authentic wholehearted self, you can't obey the command of Jesus to "Love one another, as I have loved you." He also said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands."

We have to love God with our whole heart (mind, soul, strength). But we can't do that if we are still hiding behind those things on the don't list. Let's embrace the truths of the list of do's.
My prayer for myself and you is: "Lord, teach us to live a wholehearted life so we can find You!"