Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Whither thou Goest, I Will Go




Mom K was back to English, even when one aide walked in and spoke to her in German. She looked blankly at him. She seems to fade in and out of awareness. I sat at her bedside, and she gripped my hand, but only responded to about every fifth sentence of mine. So I kept up a monologue, read her a book in the Bible, and handed her her knitting. She looked a little perplexedly at it, but I positioned the needles in her hand and she began knitting.

"Are you enjoying your knitting?" I asked.
"Oh yes," she said. I am not sure she actually added a single stitch in the hour I was there, but she seemed intent on it, and so I chattered away while she "knitted".
At one point, she looked fixedly at me and said, "You look tired."
I remember that for the past thirty years, she would always tell me I looked tired, and it would irritate me. It didn't irritate me this time.
"I am tired," I said, "I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can't fall back asleep."
"Come here," she said.
I leaned in close to her, and she smoothed the hair off my forehead, and stroked my cheek with the back of her hand.
"There, there," she said.

I asked her which Bible portion I should read. She didn't answer, just gazed fixedly at her needles. I noticed that stitches were actually falling off. They would unravel, all that work she had done, I thought sadly.
"Well then, how about the book of Ruth," I said, "That's about a mother-in-law."(I will refer to mother-in-law as MIL henceforth. It robs my writing of some of its poetic impact but saves my carpal tunnel.)

I should probably have thought that one through. The book of Ruth is indeed about a mother,Naomi, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, but it is a pretty sad story at first. Naomi's sons and husband all die in the first few paragraphs. Naomi urges her two daughter-in-laws to leave and find new husbands, and one does, but Ruth remains, crying out one of the most poignant and moving passages in the entire Scripture-
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. [17] Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

I read quickly over the sad parts and then read about how sweet Ruth helped support her MIL, gleaning grain in Naomi's native Israel. Mom K knitted, seemingly oblivious to my reading. And then I hit a verse in Ruth 2, "May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. ”
I paused.
"Isn't that a beautiful passage," I said, "You raised your children well and worked hard all your life. May you be richly rewarded!"
Her fingers stilled and she turned and looked at me. She didn't say anything but just looked at me. I smiled back at her. She returned to her knitting, and I continued reading the book of Ruth.

As I finished, I told her, "So ultimately, Ruth married Boaz, the man who owned the fields she had gleaned the grain in to help Naomi, and in the end became the great great great great Grandmother of Jesus."

You just never know where acts of kindness and love may lead. Always, always choose love.

I took away her knitting when I left. The nurse said she was concerned about the sharp ends poking her eye out if she fell asleep. So I propped the Bible open on her lap. Mom K held it open and began to turn the pages. She did not seem upset that I was leaving, perhaps not even aware that I was leaving. She was looking intently at the Bible as I left the room.


Ruth 2:12 (NIV)
May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. ”








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