Now I lay me down to sleep

Posted 23 November 2010 by
House where I was raised

House where I was raised. The back window on the left side was the shared bedroom. The single window in the front of the house was my later bedroom.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

When growing up, I shared a bedroom with my brother for many years. That is, before I wanted a room of my own enough to be willing to take the small bedroom that had the piano in it. In that shared bedroom were two simple plaques. In raised letters, one had the Lord’s Prayer. The other plaque had the above prayer. This was long before Metallica and Megadeth used this text.

These words are the first prayer I remember. While lacking the beauty of the prose of Archbishop Cranmer in the Book of Common Prayer, they were an effective way to introduce me to prayer.

Also, these words could be said to express a very simple, childlike faith. No complicated thoughts about the relationship between the creator and the created. Nothing that compares the merits of Christus Victor versus Penal Substitution. It is all about a simple, concrete trust.

Later, a mature (or maybe, maturing) faith requires asking questions. That simple, concrete trust of youth leaves many questions unanswered. There are questions that we need to answer for ourselves. Or, said another way, work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.

At the same time, I remember a story told to me by a friend when working on a graduate-level theological degree in a respected Jesuit institution. A professor described what happened once when on an airplane that started having serious problems. Rather than thinking of God in terms of the latest philosophical and theological thought, this person immediately started in with the “Hail, Mary” and other simple prayers. We do not have the luxury of highly refined and thought out theology at such times.

Dorothy Chapman

Dorothy Chapman (November 12, 1929, to November 23, 2010). Picture taken in August 2010 by Robert Chapman Sr.

My mother, Dorothy Lucille Chapman, died today, Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at the age of 81 years.

She returned to the Colby Campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett the evening of Thursday, November 11, with dangerously high blood pressure. Friday, November 12, was her 81st birthday.

On Monday, November 15, I received a telephone call from the hospital. They wanted to know if I could be present with my father at an afternoon meeting. It was at this meeting we were told that with the most aggressive treatment the longest she would live would probably be only about four months. They were pleasantly surprised when they found out that there had already been a family discussion about this. My father said he wanted only comfort care for my mother. I concurred. When going to my mother’s room and presented with the situation, my mother said she only wanted comfort care. There were no disagreements.

My mother first went into hospice care at the Pacific Campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday, November 17. One thing my mother had said was that she was not going to go to Heaven if there was not any ice cream. So, that day my mother, a diabetic, was given a foretaste of that heavenly banquet.

My partner and I visited made our first visit to her in hospice on Thursday evening. We did not go earlier because I had a bit of a cold and sore throat. She could not feed herself by this point. Watching my mother smile while I gave her spoons full of strawberry ice cream took a lot out of me. Even so, we were able to have a good time when talking to her.

I took my brother for his last visit with my mother on late Friday afternoon. Dealing with his multiple sclerosis on a daily basis, he only wanted this one time to say goodbye.

When I was there Saturday afternoon, she really was not able to talk. She made her choice of ice cream by shaking her head “yes” to strawberry. I fed her about a quarter of a cup of strawberry ice cream, but then she started to choke. This was the last thing she ate or drank. 

On Sunday afteroon, my father, my partner, and I spent an about 3 hours in my mother’s room. We brought an electronic keyboard so my partner and I could play music for my mom. (Actually, mostly my partner.) We talked to her. I read passages of scripture to her. We held her hand. The arching of eyebrows, the opening and closing of eyes, and jerks of the body were the only responses from her. There were differing responses to different songs, or when different people came in the room. My partner played a bawlderized version of Liebesträume No. 3 by Franz Lizt, as the electronic keyboard did not have a full 88 keys.

In the bleak November

View from my mother's hospice room, showing the winter storm outside.

My partner and I returned with the electronic keyboard on Monday. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said. I mostly held her hand. My partner mostly played. A record-breaking cold and snowstorm swirled outside.

The responses were fewer this day, but they were there. When we arrived, someone was making my mother comfortable. As I walked in, I said, “Hi, Mom!” The eyes opened. I did not want to disturb these caretaking duties and allow my mother some privacy during  care functions, so I said that I would be right back. Her body jerked in reaction, as well as getting a wild look in her eyes. I assured her that I would be just outside the room until the caretaker finished. She really did not quiet down until I returned.

Providing music for my mother

Providing music for my mother.

Words were not needed this day.

Well, that is not quite true. There was one thing I felt I needed to say to my mother before I left. I whispered the following in her ear:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

May my mother, Dorothy Lucille Chapman, and all the saints, rest in peace and rise in glory, having had a sure a certain hope in the resurrection.

Related posts:

Post Details

Leave a Reply

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin

Writing on a VTX is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache

Better Tag Cloud