I was fortunate enough to have been raised by both parents, who both lived long lives. My father passed at the age of 83 but my mom lived to be a 101 (and ½–let’s not forget those six months!).

In the last decade of her life, she had growing degrees of dementia and lived in an assisted living facility in Florida. Typically, I saw her only a few times a year and I suffered greatly thinking that I had let her down by not choosing to take care of her myself. It was also a grief to me that because of the dementia she didn’t recognize me for the last few years of her life.

I would often talk to the Lord about the guilt that I felt for being complicit with my siblings in having her live out her last days in the company of non-relatives. The Lord often helped me by giving me pictures of His care for her. I saw her sitting in His lap; Him picking her up; Him sitting by her bed as one of the family would; Him sitting next to her at the table in the dining room at the assisted living facility; and Him sitting with her on the veranda enjoying a warm breeze. In short, I saw Him continually at her side and I was tremendously comforted to know that she was never alone. I knew that He was her family when her family couldn’t be with her.

Several years before she passed, I was inspired to write this poem about what He showed me. I want to share this with everyone who knows the pain of an aging parent whom they can no longer care for. Be encouraged to know that the Lord never leaves the side of your loved one.

She wakes every morning
Not sure where she is
She talks to those who’ve passed away
Her memory grows dim

But He is with her
He never leaves her
She is not alone
He sits by her bed

She eats every meal
Among those who like her
Wait for a visit from their loved ones
And hope to be taken home

But He is with her
He never leaves her
She is not alone
He sits at her side

She sits on the porch
And watches life pass by
She enjoys the warmth and the blue, blue sky
And has lost her sense of time

But He is with her
He never leaves her
She is not alone
She sits on His lap

And so the days go
Each one much the same
At night she walks to an unfamiliar room
To sleep and dream of old times.

But He is with her
He never leaves her
She is not alone
He walks by her side

Yes, He’s always with her
He never leaves her
We can be sure
She’s never alone

June 2007

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