Caring for his mum as she began to develop dementia, Mark takes us with him as we talk faith, honouring your parents, and emulating Christ.
In the last seven to eight years, Mum started getting the onset of dementia. She wouldn't recognise Dad much moreover the phone, and there'd be paranoia and crying. And sometimes the police would come around, so it was getting quite radical.
There was a phone call one day, and it was the ambulance. She had fallen over and an ambulance had arrived, and she got taken up to A&E with Dad. She ended up being admitted to the delirium ward. I was thinking, "Oh, heck Lord, what am I gonna do here? What have You got for me?" In a sense, I probably felt a bit lost and said, "Oh Lord, what have You got to offer? How can we help Mum?”
So anyway, we went into the dementia ward. It's a pretty scary place really, and Mum was really upset and crying. There was a lot of stuff happening, as you can imagine. So I started praying about it. And I remember I said to Mum, "Hey Mum, remember when I was young, we had that black Labrador? And he was a good and faithful dog, he was kind and gentle? "She said, "Yeah, I remember that dog." And I said, "Well, that's what God's like, Mum. He's gentle and faithful and He never leaves us or forsakes us. He's always beside us." And it was at that point there, I think God entered her life. She started to comprehend and understand what God was like in amongst the confusion.
We spent probably a week up there and it was within that week, she started talking more about God. Then one day she came out and she said, "Mark, this is a real monumental time of my life. "I remember the word she said: monumental. She said, “I can really feel the closeness of God with me." And, you know, even amongst all the confusion and stuff like that, God was there. Like the scripture says, nothing separates us from His love.
And we got together, me, Mum and Dad. We sat and we all prayed together, which was an amazing moment. Probably my whole life, in a sense, I’ve prayed for that moment, that I could pray with my Mum and Dad. There's never been that opportunity, to do that.
It's like in hard times and struggles, that's what God's in, there's no doubt. You know, through this moment, my faith is so much increased by it. Then I say, "Wow, God, You're at work. You can work in these moments."
I started talking to her, ringing her, and then she started saying the Lord's Prayer. She said, "Mark, I know the Lord's Prayer." And I said, "You're joking." Because we grew up in a household where God was never mentioned. Grace was never spoken. So I went over the Lord’s prayer with her, piece by piece, so she got an understanding. Because I was thinking, "Man is she really saved? Does she really know God?" Because it's almost too bizarre.
Mum's got a little room and she loves it. She just thinks her room's really cool. She's got her name on the door right outside. And she goes to her room and sometimes she says she sits back and just thinks about the Lord or different things. She's really content.
One time, we went over to Palmerston to visit. I took them out for a picnic and when we finished the picnic we went back to the unit. I walked in and I noticed Mum's legs. Her feet were swollen. I said to her, "Mum, your feet are a bit swollen. Do you want me to put a cold flannel on them to help the swelling?" And she said, "Oh, that'd be good, Mark. That'd be good."
I got Mum's feet up, and I put a cold flannel on her feet. And Dad was there, seeing this whole thing. Then I said, "Oh, this is amazing, Mum. Because this is what Jesus did to his disciples. He washed their feet. And this is what I'm doing to you. I'm ministering to you." And I said, "God's ministering to you right now. And you too, Dad."
And so there was my Dad there and me there. And I was washing Mum's feet like Jesus washes our feet and cleans us. And what a beautiful moment. In my life, I never, ever expected it to happen. And there's my 91-year-old Dad looking and seeing, and getting ministered to. And I thought, "Wow, God, you're so good. Even amongst the muck and the sickness, You are right there amongst it all, ministering.” I'll hold that moment for the rest of my life. It was just incredible. Absolutely an amazing moment.
And then I said, "Let us all hold hands and pray the Lord's prayer." And so we all held hands and prayed. It was the first time in my life I've heard my dad pray. So it really blew me away.
Now, Mum's still in the ward and I still talk to Dad about God. He's slowly coming through. It was just such a cool moment. It doesn't look so pretty on the outside but I think it's on the inside that God's doing the work, you know? God is an incredible God. Like I said, He never leaves or forsakes us. Nothing, nothing separates us from His love.