"innocence," our friend Barb says as she feeds her dark-eyed, silver-haired mother, lying head inclined back in her Broda wheelchair. "When I look in my mother's eyes, I see the innocence of a child."
"You're right." I think about this as my husband Paul continues to talk quietly with Barb, making her laugh. We three are support group to each other in this quiet corner where nurses and aides smile and wave at us as they wheel other patients into the lunch room. We're the few here today to feed our parents, relishing the opportunity to make them smile as they taste good food, one of the last few interactions we can have with them in addition to a word or short sentence here or there.
Innocence. It's true. Our mothers have gone through the storms of living and returned to the tranquil innocence of children. I wonder what Heaven will be like, - our final return to lost innocence. Walking closer and closer to God, Whose Face is full sunlight, will our sins slide off us like shadows disappearing at noon? Will our hearts and minds feel light and free again as trials and worries fade away, never to return? What will it be like to finally encounter in full, with no barriers, Love Itself? Love Who totally forgives, totally accepts?
Innocence... my mother looks at me with tranquil love and acceptance. In her dementia, she's forgotten any disagreements or misunderstandings she's had with me or with anyone else. Something deep, unexplainable, impossible to put into words is happening as I feed her, raise a cup to her lips, place a pillow behind her head and a sweater around her shoulders...rub lotion on her arms, kiss her forehead. It's as if Love Itself has been distilled to its simplest, most profound acts.
"Blessed are you when you feed the hungry....give drink to the thirsty clothe the naked...comfort the sorrowful."
In her dementia, my mother leads me and walks with me on the pathway to Innocence and Love regained.