From Kirwan Uniting's Keep in Touch newsletter 24 March 2019
Last week, I helped an ex-colleague who’s now an aged care personal carer, with a Uni assessment on dementia. I had taken the same module a few years ago. It is terrible to see how the various forms which the illness takes ravage mind and body. Researchers into diseases of ageing are high on my prayer list. Dementia affects a patient’s family in a way which even cancer doesn’t. One of my saddest times at Wesley Mission was visiting a resident while her or his partner or child was there, and to see that the resident had no memory or recognition of their loved one. Perhaps after 60 years or more of marriage.
On the face of it, it is de-humanising, how is this wife, husband, mother, father, sibling, in God’s image in this state? But we aren’t defined by our memories but how God remembers us. Most of what we do we forget, or our memories are strongly reconstructed. We are creatures who forget. Our essence is in God’s memory — and in the Bible, when anyone is remembered by God, something good happens. Noah, Abraham, childless Hannah - the thief on the cross: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” And the outcast, discarded by Rome and polite society, was with Christ that day in paradise (The one time when God forgets - “Your sins I will remember no more”.). Prophesying of how even a nursing mother might forget her child, Isaiah (ch 49) has God saying “They might forget, but I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”.
Yes, it is dreadful and heartbreaking to see memory slip away from someone very dear to us. But in God’s memory, that loved one is a redeemed soul, already, if not to our time-limited sight, “sown in dishonour, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power”.