I spent the morning with my elderly mother-in-law today. She has dementia and lives in a care home, but we visit at least once a week and I was determined to take her out this week while I have no studying. The past couple of times M has seemed more confused, more clumsy, more tired. From what I have read about dementia this is just the gradual, if not unexpected, decline with the passage of time. Today she asked me the whereabouts of her husband, so I had to gently tell her of his death. We have had to do this several times, though not as many as you would think. She began to cry as the news hit her afresh.

“I forgot, you know.” She said, at once both pained and vulnerable. She blew her nose, “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know.” I replied, taking her hand.

With a ragged breath she smiled and said, “Time goes on.”

“It does. And we hold on to the things that matter most.”

“You’ve a nice way of putting things,” she said, calmer now. “Thank you.”

I lifted the teapot and poured, thinking: if my life is destined to be small, and not grand, if my remaining years are to be spent giving smiles to folk who need to see a friendly face, or a gentle word to someone in distress, I will praise God and thank Him for the privilege.