The decline continues as there is still no evidence that increased medication is impacting the multiple episodes of fainting.  In the morning, Mary Ann has continued to faint even while just sitting in her chair.   After the long morning nap there is some improvement, but each day there seems to be less and less improvement.  She can’t stand up for more than a minute or two without dropping back into the chair.  Occasionally later in the day she can make it twenty or thirty feet.  

Today I had the wonderful privilege of Ordaining into the ministry a young man I respect very much.  It was a powerful and meaningful experience for all of us.  The Service went well.  It was especially emotional since his Mother had died a few years ago of a form of Alzheimer’s Disease.  She would have been proud beyond words. 

Having been retired for a little over a year now, today has clarified something about the nature of the Pastoral Ministry.  Leading worship services, when done weekly is no small task, but the regularity helps, especially for someone who is terrified of making a foolish mistake in public. 

As today approached, I found myself deeply apprehensive, especially since it was an Ordination service, different from the Sunday norm.  I couldn’t count on auto pilot to get through it.  It felt like what I would imagine a tight wire artist would feel like if after a year of not walking the wire, he was stepping out on a wire stretched over a canyon with no safety net.  I realize I wouldn’t actually be hurt physically if I made some foolish mistake, but rational thinking has little impact when the fear center takes over. 

The stress of fears about where Mary Ann’s disease is taking her so quickly these last days and the stress of deep seated apprehensions about the Service today converged, making for a very difficult weekend.

It is painfully obvious, that stress complicates caregiving whatever the source of the stress.  It took a great deal of effort to maintain a level of patience through this time.  It helped that by now I know myself well enough to recognize the real seat of my frustration.  It is not at Mary Ann, it was simple fear struggling to find a way to express itself.  

As for today, there was a very capable Volunteer from the congregation during the morning hours, allowing me to do some preparations for the service.  Then this afternoon, while I was at church before, during and after the service, doing what had stirred the apprehensions, there was a paid Companion Care person from a local agency, Home Instead.  She had been with Mary Ann most every Sunday morning the last year or two before I retired.  I could leave the house confident that Mary Ann would be in good hands while I was gone.

One significance of doing the Ordination today is that a month from now will be the fortieth anniversary of my Ordination.  Forty years is the normal length of the career of a pastor as a full time paid worker.  I finished my professional career, Karl began his.  All sorts of emotions were stirring as he took over the last portion of the service as an Ordained Pastor. 

One of the most powerful moments was the choir singing a piece called the First Song of Isaiah.  It is a piece strongly associated with Karl’s Mother while she was alive and at her death.  As they sang and I thought of Tina, my fears about where Mary Ann’s Parkinson’s is now taking her folded into the moment. 

We are on a roller coaster that may go up and down many times for years to come before we move into the endgame.  There are moments when the stresses converge.  I am grateful that we have a framework built on deep spiritual footings.  That is what allows us to live each day as fully as possible in the face of whatever comes our way.

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