Sunday, January 15, 2006

Of All The Things I've Lost...

Alright, I know I'm getting older. Last month the odometer turned to 44, and perhaps my mind is getting a few miles on it. But I'm not ready to turn over my short-term memory just yet. Still I may not have a choice in the matter. And as the t-shirt says, "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!"

After getting home from the church, I decided that I had better fill up the tank in my wife's van since it was below "E". Since my wife needed some snack crackers to take to a Christmas party this evening, I decided to hit Wal-Mart. (Yes, I buy things at Wal-Mart, so I may possibly be the anti-Christ!) Wal-Mart is about ten miles away. To get there I have to drive through my little town. With two football games to watch this afternoon, I got in a hurry, hopped in the truck and headed for the store.

I had driven three miles and was almost through town. I was looking around at the houses and thinking about the song on the radio when I realized I had a slight problem. You'll notice that it was my wife's van which needed gas, but I had absent-mindedly hopped in my truck and headed off. I eventually noticed it too. Since it's not easy to fill the gas tank of a vehicle ten miles away, I slinked back home to switch rides. While at home, I checked to see if I had left my mind in the driveway. No such luck.

We're trying out a new cat this weekend. Sort of a feline test drive. It's a cat who needs a home and we're seeing how he works with the other animals around the house. So far the jury is out. But he's different from our other cat. This new cat is nocturnal and extremely active. We're not used to that around here. He's the type of cat who decides suddenly that he just has to be in the other room... NOW! Whoosh!

Now I'll admit that on occasion, I have also found that I'm not in the room I want to be in. I'll stand there wondering whatever possessed me to walk from the basement to the kitchen in the first place. Then the only way I can remember is to trudge back down to the basement to find whatever it was that I was staring at which made me think I needed to go to the kitchen. I get more exercise that way!

But my mind... the short-term part can play tricks on a person. And thinking about it, I realize just how much I take for granted. I've talked with people who have slowly lost their eyesight. As their vision deteriorated they tried to do a few more things to store up some visual memories. Reading. Staring at grandkids. Watching a favorite movie. Later on those activities would be impossible. The memories were still there, but the chance to do it again was gone. These folks had a chance to treasure the gift of sight for a little while longer. They learned not to take it for granted.

I've watched people with Altzheimer's slowly lose the battle to keep a clear mind. I've seen active people become bedridden by cancer. I've known people who lost a child or a parent. Each one had something precious taken from them. Some have been angry. Others have been understanding. But all have suffered loss. That's horrible. And it's horrible just watching from my vantage point. However, it's a reminder of just how much we have. If we didn't have so much, there wouldn't be so much to lose.

I love the book of Job. It's the struggle of a man who "had it all" only to find himself at the end of the day with almost nothing. And in his anguish, he called upon God to ask why all of this had happened. Job demanded an answer. Of course Job wasn't ready for the answer he got. But Job wasn't left with nothing. He had his mind. He had his vision. He wasn't confined to a sickbed. He even had three sincerely misguided friends. And he had a God who had not forgotten about him.

Isn't it amazing that even in the throes of agony we still have been blessed with so much?

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