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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Longing For Home - Precious Memories 14


I cut my baby teeth on Southern Gospel music.

My parents were a bit musical and loved to sing. I grew up hearing a lot of old hymns. My mom could play the piano a little by ear, and my dad played the guitar. My mom had notebooks full of handwritten lyrics and chords. I remember sitting on the kitchen table, holding up a “songbook” so my dad could see it, while he stood and played. Mom would stand next to him and they would sing about Jesus.

Swinging my legs back and forth in time, I listened to their voices blend together. I heard songs like, “Because He Lives”, “I’ve Got A Mansion”, “He Touched Me” – all were a part of my childhood.

But even now, there’s one hymn that instantly chokes me up and puts a huge lump in my throat. I cannot hear it without feeling a deep homesick feeling inside.

It’s called, “Beulah Land”

The lyrics go like this:

Beulah land, I’m longing for you 
And someday, on thee I’ll stand 
Where my home shall be eternal 
Beulah land, sweet Beulah land 
 I’m kind of homesick for a country 
Where I’ve never been before 
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken 
For time won’t matter anymore 
I’m looking now across the river 
Where my faith is gonna end in sight 
There’s just a few more days to labor 
And then I’ll take my heavenly flight 
Where my home shall be eternal 
Beulah land, sweet Beulah land 

After the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we tried to keep my mom’s environment peaceful and calm. She still loved music, even when she couldn’t always sing along. She had several CD’s with old hymns on them, and one had Beulah Land. When it would play, I could tell she recognized the song. She had a look about her – almost a longing on her face. Just like the song says, she was looking ahead.

She knew what lay before her and where she was going. So did I. But it didn’t make it easier to let go. I began missing her long before she was physically gone. We played those CD’s endlessly, to bring her a sense of familiar, and a sense of peace. In her world, which had gone completely mad and upside down, hymns were normal. They brought comfort.

She began to talk about “home” quite a bit in the last few months. The professionals told me that when your loved one is asking to “go home”, or referring to home, sometimes it’s a sign. Sure enough, it was within just a few months that she made her final move and went home to heaven. The hymn playing that day, was Amazing Grace. It’s the last song she heard, as she took her last breath.

Knowing she was finally home was such a relief. I was happy for her, trying to imagine the very first person she saw. Who would be waiting for her at the gate? For her sake, I kind of hoped it was her mother.

She had been asking for her, for quite some time. The first time I heard her call out for her mother, it nearly took me to my knees. I felt a pain in my middle, so sharp – I cannot describe the agony or heartache. I was stunned at what this disease had reduced her to.

In her mind, she was a little girl again, wanting her mom. They told me this often happens as the end draws near, but witnessing it for myself, was gut wrenching. After the shock wore off, I wanted to find a way to reassure her, and make her feel safe. I didn’t want her scared.

I knew what it was like to want your mom. I missed my mom so much, and yet she was still here with me physically.

The next time she did this, she was in bed. She called out for her mom and waited. I went over and gently tucked her in. The room was darkened, and as I tucked her blankets around her, I softly rubbed her back and said, “Momma’s here.”

She smiled at me.  

A sleepy, satisfied smile, the look of a child comforted. She then closed her eyes, and quietly fell asleep.

It broke my heart and at the same time, made me feel a sense of relief that she felt safe and secure. I knew she longed for home and ultimately, her journey here was ending. She was homesick.

And so I began to pray that God would take her.

*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother, who battled Alzheimer's.  I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  

You can start reading our story from the beginning here: Precious Memories 1 

You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
And This Is Why I Write - Precious Memories 13

Listen to Bradley Walker sing Beulah Land here

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