October 15, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Bible-based book explores Journey Through Disability

Shirley Vogler MeisterNot long ago, I went through a stack of books and papers that I had placed in a corner of my computer room.

The best item that I found was a book, Journey Through Disability: Stories and Meditations from Webb’s Mommy, by Tammy Smith. Her book reminded me of the times when I have been personally involved with the challenges of other people’s disabilities. Many of us have.

I especially recall my friend, Janie Coombs, whose daughter, Susie, was receiving care at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis, where my husband’s mother, Pauline, was living.

Susie’s room was across the hall from Pauline’s room, and Janie and I became good friends as well as advocates for the elderly and the infirm.

We presented programs at care centers, mostly for staff members, and reminded them how much the families of nursing home residents depend upon professional caregivers to keep their loved ones well cared for and safe.

Susie suffered from multiple sclerosis. My mother-in-law had infirmities of age and dementia. I was her caregiver for a long time.

My mother, Irene, was living at a nursing home in Illinois. I thanked God that my sister was there to help her, and tried to divide my time between both places.

Janie was like an older sister or mother to me. I was awed by her faith and her love for her daughter, whom she cared for herself for many more years than I took care of my mother and Pauline.

When I found the book, I also discovered a memorial note about Janie’s life. She died in December 2003. Susie survived her mother through the amazing care at the St. Augustine Home, where the Little Sisters of the Poor, their staff and volunteers provide wonderful care for the residents.

Smith’s book about her son, Webb, is an inspirational story about living with complex disabilities.

The book’s back cover notes, “ ‘It isn’t fair’ are words that come quickly to mind when it seems that God has dealt us an overwhelming blow. Here are stories of a mother with a severely handicapped son that offer hope, joy and the experience of the presence of God in the midst of needing to give 24/7 care. We follow a family in their discovery that, through [their] special-needs son, God taught them more about God’s goodness than they might have learned any other way.”

If I had read this book during my caregiving years, I would have recognized more blessings instead of challenges.

I admire the author, whose approach is beautifully biblical. Smith’s book is available at www.pleasantwordbooks.com or by calling 877-421-7323.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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