More MS news articles for February 2001

Minister’s book reaches out to families devastated by MS

By MAUREEN HAYDEN, Courier & Press staff writer
(812) 464-7433 or
Ten years ago, the Rev. Glenn Mollette was a man abundantly blessed. He was married to the love of his life, father to two healthy children and, at 34, in line for the prestigious post of president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Then his world came crashing in.

In the winter of 1990, Mollette learned his wife had multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system. It’s a cruel disease that would come to take a terrible toll on Karen Mollette, leaving her unable to dress, bathe or even feed herself. It’s also a disease that has taken a terrible toll on the Mollette family, robbing them of the wife and mother who had been the heart of their home.

In a candid and deeply intimate book, the Newburgh minister has written about their torturous journey.

“We belong to a very unique, private club, and the membership dues are high, very high,” Mollette wrote in a chapter of the book, “Silent Struggler: A Caregiver’s Personal Story.”

“To belong to this club, you must first face the devastating fact that someone you love is ill, terribly, irretrievably ill.”

Mollette began to write the book three years ago, after he had searched unsuccessfully for a guide that dealt with the emotional issues of caring for someone with a debilitating disease.

“I kept finding books that told me about the disease and how to physically care for someone with the disease,” said Mollette, the pastor at Gateway Baptist Church in Newburgh, “but I couldn’t find one that dealt with the emotional issues that all of us were facing.”

Mollette’s book deals with those emotional issues in an up-front way without exacting pity from its readers. In candid language, he reveals what it was like for his healthy, independent wife to have to rely on her husband as she slowly lost all ability to care for herself. He writes, too, about his grief over losing the sexual intimacy in their marriage, and about a frightening incident in which his young sons discovered their comatose mother after she had attempted suicide.

He is honest about his own failings, including a time when he had left his wife alone in a bath for too long. Unable to even lift herself out, she had to scream for help.

Afterward, she told her husband: “Glenn, you just don’t realize what it is like to be so dependent ... . I’m not afraid of death. Death would be simple. I’m afraid of being totally bedridden. I am afraid of being unable to feed myself. I’m so tired of being afraid.”

Mollette also is frank about his own crisis of faith, becoming angry with God for having inflicted such pain on his family.

“Sometimes all that gets preached to Christians is that if they have true faith, all will be well,” Mollette said, “but that’s not true or honest Christianity. We can’t expect never to suffer. But we can turn to God to help us through the suffering.”