Yesterday would have been my parents 59th wedding anniversary. Mom told me that the ritual she had with dad on that day was pretty basic: they'd look at each other and ask if they were willing to extend the contract for another year. Obviously, that is all it took. My dad was not a romantic, but as many of my friends noted, who saw him during his final years, they could tell by the way he looked at my mom and how his eyes would follow her that he loved her deeply.
So, July 10th is a special day in the life of Hurricane Peg. In her current condition, I imagine that mom would have rather been somewhere else besides her room at Colonial Poplin. And then a thing of true grace happened.
While I was home, I had noticed that my childhood parish, Christ Church, has a new thing during the Eucharist. Not only can you receive the Body and Blood of Christ: those who so choose may go to a corner where the choir pews used to be and receive a laying on of hands for healing from "the Healing Team." These are lay ministers with a special call to do this work. I inquired with my brother Edward, who attends Christ Church, about these ministers and whether they do this same anointing and prayer work outside the church building. He wasn't sure. But I was sure that I was going to ask. I was introduced to some of the people on the team at the reception for their new rector.
"Do you ever take your healing show on the road?" (Sorry; it's not that I'm irreverent about the power of healing; it's just the way I talk.)
"Yes," they responded. Edward, who was standing over my shoulder, seemed greatly relieved to hear this, and he and I both proceeded to explain that we would like to have someone visit our mother. After much going around and around about exactly where Colonial Poplin is, the team said they'd be happy to include her in their rounds. Edward gave the address to the church office. I also asked mom's speech therapist if she felt my mom would be able to handle receiving communion.
"One of the things that has been important to my mom has been the church," I explained. And it is true. Even though religion wasn't a big deal in our house during the week, the church and the choir, in particular, were important to my mom. When my dad was at Alterra Clare Bridge here in Tallahassee, mom would make arrangements to have a Eucharistic Visitor come to see him every few weeks. She'd also try to arrange for me to be there when that was happening. Sometimes I would be; most of the time, I, who was still in my feral cat mode with all things church, would be conveniently absent when anyone from St. John's, lay or ordained, was making a visit to see my father. However, for my parents, this connection to God, and to a church community, was of vital importance.
Knowing this, I wanted to see if my mom's swallowing was such that she could handle something like a wafer dipped in wine. The speech therapist, who shared that she was an ex-Catholic turned Lutheran, was going to give it some thought. Mom was about to go to three meals a day, sans feeding tube. If all went well, perhaps then this would be OK, too.
Yesterday, on her 59th wedding anniversary, it apparently happened.
I got a text message from Edward: "Just go an email from (Fr.)David Holroyd telling me that two women with the healing team at Christ Church- Patti Buck and Judy Hinds- visited with mom today and had a great time. They did the dysphagia specific communion with her and all went well. I know mom was overjoyed with all of it and seeing new faces made (her) the happiest girl in Fremont. Oh yeah, did me a world of good, too. I love having Patti do this since she is a PT (physical therapist) herself. This is a great and golden night."
And so my mom was able to receive "the gift of God for the people of God." And I agree with Edward: I believe that for her to receive such a gift into her own body probably gave my mom the greatest spiritual boost in the world.
Another contract renewed!