The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley
Robert Burns 1785
I am a dreamer...a planner...an organiser. I had our Stir-up Sunday planned down to the last detail weeks ago.
We would travel to Geelong for Church in the morning. There was to be a morning tea after the service at which we were to celebrate the 10 years that our wonderful minister and his family have been in Australia. My mother had played a significant role in organising the event. She had put together an amazing hamper of treats for the family to enjoy, and was to make a speech during the proceedings. Afterwards we would head to Dad and Mum's home to begin the baking, excitedly chanting the traditional lines,
Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot;
And when we'll get home we'll eat the lot!
We would prepare Christmas Pudding, the Christmas Cake, shortbread and maybe a White Christmas slice. All the family would be involved in the stirring - clockwise, of course, and from East to West, and we would all make a secret wish. We would add the pudding charms - a threepence, a sixpence (two chances for wealth in our pudding!), a silver thimble for a lucky life and a silver ring to fortell marriage. We would drink champagne, laugh a lot and generally have a wonderful beginning to our festive season for 2008...
The day began well. The morning tea was fantastic. Mum's speech was incredible - her voice was strong and clear, she remembered what she wanted to say and everybody congratulated her on her hitherto unforeseen public speaking skills. Her hamper was well received.
The frivolities in the car lived up to expectation too. Stir-up Sunday signifies the beginning of Christmas - everyone was eager to get started...
Only we didn't...
Less than half and hour later we were on our way to Geelong Hospital, lunch sitting on the stove, pudding ingredients languishing on the bench. We were painfully reminded of the letters "D.V" and their meaning - Deo volente , God willing.
The combined stress of the past few weeks - both organising Sunday's celebrations as well as the dinner to raise money for the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital that she organised a couple of weeks ago (I blogged about that one here) had just been too much, and mum was suffering from what is called Transient Global Amnesia.
As the name suggests, and the linked article explains, this is a transient loss of memory function. Immediate recall ability is preserved, as is remote memory; however, patients experience striking loss of memory for recent events and an impaired ability to retain new information. In some cases, the degree of retrograde memory loss is mild.
Mum was admitted to hospital on Sunday night with the full expectation that things would resolve and her memory would return.
Now my mum doesn't get sick. She's a superhuman - normal human frailty is not part of her genetic make-up. Her body didn't like this feeling of being out of control. This stress - added to the heavy load of the past few weeks pushed her over the edge. Yesterday she collapsed after undergoing a CT scan to rule out any brain pathology. Her heart began showing irregularities and an urgent echocardiogram helped diagnose a second unrelated condition, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.
This stress-induced disease is a sudden temporary weakening of the the muscles of the heart. (Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, the condition is also known as broken heart syndrome!) You can read as much as you like about the condition in the linked article.
We are confident that (D.V.), mum will be coming home fit and well - although possibly not quite so superhuman - in a few weeks, but the whole event has been a stark reminder to us all of the need to trust in God. Our times, our interests, our salvation, are all out of our hands - out of the hands of man. Our lives are supremely and safely in his alone.
We trust God implicitly for the future. He will bring no sorrow without comfort, no affliction without sympathy. In his grace we will have all we need.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:12
TIME, HOW SWIFT!
While with ceaseless course the sun
Hastened through the former year,
Many souls their race have run,
Never more to meet us here;
Fixed in an eternal state,
They are done with all below;
We a little longer wait,
But how little―none can know.
As the winged arrow flies,
Speedily the mark to find;
As the lightning from the skies
Darts, and leaves no trace behind.
Swiftly thus our fleeting days
Bear us down life's rapid stream;
Upwards, Lord, our spirits raise,
All below is but a dream.
Thanks for mercies past received,
Pardon of our sins renew;
Teach us, henceforth, how to live
With, eternity in view.
Bless your word to young and old,
Fill us with a Savior's love;
And when life's short tale is told,
May we dwell with you above.
Time, with an unwearied hand,
Pushes round the seasons past;
And in life's frail glass the sand,
Sinks apace, not long to last.
Many, who, as you and I,
The last year assembled thus,
In their silent graves now lie;
Graves will open soon for us!
Daily sin, and care, and strife,
While the Lord prolongs our breath,
Make it but a dying life,
Or a kind of living death.
Wretched they, and most forlorn,
Who no better portion know;
Better never to have been born,
Than to have our all below.
When constrained to go alone,
Leaving all you love behind,
Entering on a world unknown,
What will then support your mind?
When the Lord his summons sends,
Earthly comforts lose their power;
Honor, riches, kindred, friends,
Cannot cheer a dying hour.
Happy souls who fear the Lord;
Time is not too swift for you;
When your Savior gives the word,
Glad you'll bid the world adieu.
Then he'll wipe away your tears;
Near himself appoint your place;
Swifter fly, you rolling years,
Lord, we long to see your face.
John Newton 1774