When my dad was dying, the last lucid conversation we shared was him reliving an event from the times of my childhood.
Just before my husband's dad died, his last utterance was in his native language, not English.
And it seems that in losing one's memory the short term memory is the first thing affected - the long term memory is stronger.
Why am I thinking about these things? Recently a dear man at church asked me if I would put together a file of verses from Scripture so that he could read them to his wife who is now in care with various conditions including dementia. It was a privilege and a huge responsibility. And it got me wondering...
What Scriptures do I want read to me when I move from independence back into the state of dependence that old age or serious ill health may bring?
Will my knowledge of the Bible and my love of God be strong enough that these things will stay with me when all else goes?
What will I default to when my life is drawing to a close?
In thinking about these things it seems to me that we have the opportunity to finish well. But it means work now - but good work - work that will feed and nurture us now as we prepare for the future. It means being steeped in the Word of God - reading the Bible, praying in its truths, memorising key portions. It means laying solid foundations for the future.
And it seems it IS possible to finish well. Be encouraged in reading this:
John Piper recently recounted his father’s unwavering faith, even in his closing years:
Even in his final years of dementia, he rejoiced. In the last month that he was able to keep a journal (April of 2004), he wrote,
“I’ll soon be 86 but I feel strong and my health is good. God has been exceedingly gracious and I am most unworthy of His matchless grace and patience. The Lord is more precious to me the older I get.”
Read that final line again, slowly. What an amazing sentence—even in the midst of dementia, he felt the increasing preciousness of the presence of Christ.*
It is another example of making use of the good times we have to prepare for the harder times that will surely come upon us. And we can do so with good courage. It says in Lamentations 3:22-27:
"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself,'The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young."
Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, p. 11 as found on John Piper's Desiring God site.