Anytime I get to hear from Cynthia Ruchti, I feel as though I’m being hugged. Her gentle spirit, quick humor, and warm heart touch everything she writes. Her newest book, which you’ll learn more about in a moment, is a collection of 52 “me-too” reflections on the ups and downs, the blessings and the challenges, of caring for your parents as they age.
by Cynthia Ruchti
I held the plastic card in my hand, staring at the image in the upper left corner. I’d resisted too long. It was time to throw away Mom’s driver’s license.
Seven years after her funeral.
As the oldest child and Mom’s executrix, I’d saved a box of her important papers—including her driver’s license and Social Security card—as a formality, the typical post-funeral fog making me hesitate to toss anything that might be needed in the months of follow-up paperwork.
A stronger tug, though, was my resistance against putting her identity in the trash.
Somehow, symbolically, that’s what it felt like. For seven years, I moved the box of Mom’s “important” papers from shelf to shelf in the spare room closet, knowing the day would come when I could see the cards for what they really were—no longer needed.
Mom’s death hadn’t been a surprise. It ushered in sweet relief for her after a nearly two-decade battle with heart disease. We family members had every confidence she hadn’t experienced a nanosecond of space between her final heartbeat and her first breath of heaven.
It wasn’t hard to dispose of her 1950s bottle of Mercurochrome (purported to sting less than Merthiolate). Or to find new homes for her collection of Christian fiction—four bookcases full, each shelf stacked at least two deep. She’d begun collecting in 1993. Some of the authors reading this blog were among her favorites.
It seems silly now that I hesitated last week with the long-useless driver’s license in my hand.
An unknown author whose work appears on vases, mugs, plaques, and journal covers—just ask Pinterest—wrote these words: “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
I included the quote in my June nonfiction release—As My Parents Age: Reflections on Life, Love, and Change (Worthy Inspired). The book offers encouragement for those seeing the first signs of aging in their parents, those fully embroiled in the thick of aging’s toll, and those who know a parent will soon be a memory.
Last week, I was the one leaning on the quote. I could release the worthless pieces of plastic because I have a mental storage locker full of sweet memories. Much of Mom’s treasured Christian fiction collection now lives at my house. And I’ve been left with a heart full of gratitude for a mother who fought so hard to stay with us, not for her sake, but for ours.
For most of us it is not the “ifs” but the “whens”: when I notice the first signs; when we mourn the role reversal; when my children need me too; or when I don’t know how to pray.
Those are just a few of the fifty-two reflections on the changes, challenges, and blessings of loving your parent as they grow older.
Their lives – and yours – begin to change.
Knowing that you are not alone, that others have been where you are, is encouraging and uplifting.
This is not a how-to, but a me-too, as you see yourself and your own situation lived out in the stories of others.
As My Parents Age: Reflections on Life, Love, and Change is beautiful in every way. From the gorgeous hardcover design to the internal layout to the words themselves. It’s set up so that you can either read it straight through, split it up into a once-a-week or once-a-day devotional, OR just skip to the chapter titles that seem to hit you right where you’re at in your current stage of caregiving. It embraces you with the whisper that you’re not alone and extends hope and grace and a little laughter when it’s most needed.
My family is so honored to be included in this collection. One of my most-cherished memories of helping to care for my beloved, best-friend grandmother as she faded into Alzheimers’ grip is featured in chapter 19. I received my pre-ordered copy of As My Parents Age right after learning that my mom’s brother, my late grandmother’s son, had died from alcoholism-related complications. I knew our story was in the book so I hunted it down (and read many of the heartfelt chapters in the process) and when I saw it printed there (on page 138, if anyone’s keeping track lol) God used it (and Cynthia) once again to remind that Jesus loves us – PERIOD. No ifs, ands, or buts. He loved my uncle, no matter how tragic his life became. He loved my grandmother in every stage of her life, including the days marked by Alzheimer’s. He loves me, no matter how distracted I get in my relationship with Him. And He loves you. Period.
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope through award-winning fiction, nonfiction, devotionals, and through speaking events for women or writers. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. You can connect with her through her website: cynthiaruchti.com or hemmedinhope.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.
What about you? What’s a memory you cherish of a loved one?