The Holy Ghost: A Living Presence by My Side


One night as I lay sleepless, feeling discouraged and very much alone, I remembered a scripture in John where the Savior had promised his disciples that he would not leave them comfortless. I turned on the light, reached for my Bible, and opened it to chapter 14. At the end of verse 26 I paused, then reread that verse [John 14:26]: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.”

Those words provided the first ray of hope I had felt in months. My husband, Glenn, was suffering from a condition called Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no known cure. Alzheimer’s disease affects the central nervous system which, over a period of months or years, decreases one’s mental and physical abilities.

Glenn was a fine and righteous man before he became ill. We had looked forward to many happy years of church service together and the opportunity of serving a mission. But as his condition worsened, Glenn was forced to quit all activities that required him to think. He gave up his church callings, he quit reading, quit doing the things he liked to do, and even quit watching television. Eventually he even began to get lost when he was out walking and could no longer go anywhere alone.

Unable to keep himself busy, Glenn became restless and continually depended on me to do something with him or take him somewhere. I spent all my time with him.

The problems of caring for my husband increased steadily. Alzheimer patients often become difficult to take care of. Glenn began to refuse my help. It became impossible to reason with him, because by then he had lost the ability to talk and understand language. Our days became long struggles of getting through washing, dressing, shaving. My feelings were divided between impatience—even anger—and deep compassion for my helpless husband. In spite of all the problems, I wanted to care for him myself. But I needed to learn how to care for him, and I knew I needed more help that I could get from any other earthly source. I did not know how to help him until I read that passage of scripture in John.

I had never thought of the Holy Ghost as a teacher. I had prayed continually for the strength to care for Glenn, but up until then I had relied on my own wisdom. Now a scripture showed me the way to go beyond my finite capabilities. My heart went out to others in similar circumstances who must provide constant care for the sick or the elderly. I hoped that they could come to know of the divine help available to them if they would just reach out.

Since that sleepless night when I was guided to read the Savior’s loving words, I have turned to the Lord for help, and the Holy Ghost has been like a living presence by my side, comforting and teaching me how to care for my husband. Although Glenn behaves mentally and physically like an infant now, I am at peace. My heart is not troubled by the present, nor am I afraid of the future. I know the Holy Ghost will comfort and guide me. My life has meaning. I am serving the Lord by caring for one of his helpless children.

[illustration] Illustrated by Warren Archer