Friday, February 12, 2010

Eva's Song

Last Tuesday, I went into Pueblo to visit a member of our church. The member's name is Eva, and she was suffering with a bout of pneumonia. Eva has had a rough go of it lately. When I arrived here about two years ago, she was recovering from an injury that would not allow her to walk as much as she needed to. This frustrated her, but she rarely complained, and if she did complain it was to blame herself for not being able to heal fast enough or work hard enough.

Around October, Eva had another visit to the hospital. It was decided at that point that she would stay with her son Roger and his family. Eva would hold the babies during the day care her daughter-in-law ran. She eventually got sick, and her illness quickly turned from a cold into pneumonia. She was taken to the hospital.

When I visited Eva Tuesday, I spent a little time visiting with her, and a lot of time visiting with her son Roger. Roger and I talked vacation and golf, and about life in general. It was a good chat. When it came time for me to leave, I asked Eva if I could pray for her. Her poor hearing led her to believe that I was requesting that she pray for all of us. She told us to bow our heads, so we did. She told us to close our eyes, and we did that too. Then Eva began to pray.

Some people might be grieved by Eva's prayer. As she prays, it becomes clear that her mind is not as clear as it was months, or even weeks ago. She got stuck in a loop of prayers. For many this loop would be sad, for others a dark comedy. It has elements of both these things. But most of all, the prayer was beautiful.

It was beautiful because when Eva could not think of anything else, and she did not have the intellectual capacity to pray in the way you know she could in earlier years, she kept repeating the same word. That word was "thank you".

"Thank you Lord for this day....thank you....thank you Lord for our friends and family...thank you...thank you for providing us the food we ate....thank you....most of all Lord we thank you for Jesus, who loved us enough to make a way for us to spend eternity with you....thank you..."

She kept saying her thank you's over and over again. She would note God's work in creation. She would note God's love for us. She would thank God for Jesus. Not just once, or twice, but over and over again. I left the hospital after I finished by praying for her. On the drive home I found myself fighting back tears. And I was not fighting back tears because she is dying. I was fighting back tears because of her testimony. When her mind could not think through a paragraph, her heart kept saying "Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you!"

In one of my internships in seminary I visited a Alzheimer's clinic with a mentor/pastor named Charles. As we wandered through the clinic, we sat with a member of Charles' church in the cafeteria. Around us people screamed outoud, "Lord, why? Lord, why?" and "Please God just let me die." as the top of their lungs.

To be honest, I can't blame them. I hurt for the people in the Alzheimer's clinic that day. That is why I was so moved when Eva said, "Thank you!"

Through the week, I wondered if this was simply an anomaly. On Thursday, Eva's sons Richard and Roger moved Eva to the Fowler Nursing Home. I went to visit her. It took a while for her to understand who I was and why I was there. We chatted a little bit. Then she started singing

"Allleluia, Alleluia. God is so good. Alleluia," Eva sang.

Eva kept singing "alleluiah's" until she sang herself to sleep. I said good bye to the sons chatting at the door. I walked out to my car. Eva could hardly recognize me. We could hardly have a conversation. But as I walked to my car it was my turn to mumble to myself, "thank you, Lord, thank you for Eva."


Stan said...

That is a beautiful testimony, one that you should cherish and use to remind others. Despite not being able to remember what day it is, she still had the ability in her heart to remember and to thank God for her life and the simple things of each day.

Eric L said...

This will forever be one of my favorite blog posts.

Kim said...

Clint, thank you so much for sharing about Eva. I pray my heart will be founded in thanks too and not grumbelings!

Rebecca Lynn said...

That is so beautiful, Clint. Thanks for posting this. My grandma's in the nursing home right now, and she's not coherent at all. But I'd like to think that somewhere, deep in her heart, she's singing "Alleluia", too. :-)

Happy V-day to you and Jen and dog and little baby!!! :-)

Erin Wilson said...

What a beautiful story, Tuck. I have much to learn from Eva!