I have to come clean on something here.
Yes, we have a team put together and yes, I am raising money for the Walk on Saturday here in town.
And yes, I have invited friends and family and total strangers to walk with us.
But no, I am not personally walking.
Because when we agreed to set up a team and support the local Walk to Remember, I forgot I had signed up for a conference that weekend in Dallas.
Russ will be walking for both of us and it would be wonderful if local friends could join him.
And I am given fresh material for my second topic of this week:
Because the truth is, you cannot be all things to all people all the time…but the lie will tell you, you could if you tried harder.
As I mentioned yesterday, the care of my father, mother and aunt all fell on us in a very busy season of life.
Having parents forty years old at my birth, I was myself in my forty’s when their health began to deteriorate and we had to bring them here to arrange the various levels of care needed for each one.
My aunt had dementia and my father had Alzheimers and I am often asked the difference.
My unscientific, non-physician trained answer is..my aunt forgot things but when you told her she could process and remember for a little while.
My father’s condition was a whole new playing field.
Basically he often couldn’t understand what he was being told. He lived in a strange world made up of his past and present all jammed together into something he tried to make sense of.
His natural tendency to have a temper was enhanced by the frustration of his illness and there were days I prayed he would forget who I was so that he would no longer be angry at me for keeping him there “in that place”…as he called it.
But now, from the safe distance of eight years of healing, I often thank God that the last time he looked at me…even though he could no longer speak…his eyes knew me as his youngest daughter.
He didn’t know my name.
But he knew I was his youngest daughter to the end.
And for this I thank God.
As I mentioned yesterday, our caregiver years for aging parents were also our final years with our children in our home.
I knew my father, in his right mind, would have told me to care for my family and not worry about him. My dad lived his life caring for his family and he would have been truly angry with me if I had neglected my own.
I knew that the way to honor my father was to not let our three children spend their last years in our home without the full attention of their mom to the best of her frazzled abilities.
I also knew that it didn’t matter how much time I spent with my dad, when I got home the phone would be ringing and he would be angrily asking me why he was there and no one was coming to see him.
My mom lived five years after we brought them here and I would drive her over to see him once a week.
Sometimes I went in and sometimes I shooed her out of the car, reminding her she was the one who had made the “for better or worse vows,” not me.
She would say she had a feeling she would die before he did and I agreed and told her I would hunt her down and drag her back, but we both knew when she was gone, I would be the one to go see him once a week.
Even now, Caregiver Guilt, rears its ugly head because I feel compelled to explain why we didn’t go more often.
Sure some families go every day.
Some daughters and some wives and some sons stop and make sure their loved one has company to eat with and to visit every day or several times a week.
But for us….more frequent visits meant a change in routine.
It meant more behaviors…more Ativan…another trip to the ER because he became uncontrollable.
So we stuck to a routine.
Our visits were consistent and short.
And we held back our tears on the days he waved to us from the window of the lobby until we pulled out of the parking lot.
Other days, we cried full on as we tried to forget what he had said about us as he stormed off down the hall.
And either way, we left feeling like the worst people ever.
Then my mom died and it was just me.
In the sanctuary of the car, hot tears would fall and I would find myself in the strangest place of asking God to take my dad home. Please. For an end to the pain and an end to the heartache and an end to the suffering. For him, for me, for all of us.
So today I offer a prayer for the ache in your heart if this kind of visit is a memory or if you are still living it today.
Heavenly Father God, You know our hearts.
As we try to do what is best for those we love who no longer have their right minds, You alone know the tears and guilt we bear as we leave them in some facility or under someone’s care and go on out in our world and our lives.
Lord, I pray for those who are in this setting now to be able to understand and remember that being an advocate for someone who is unable to make daily life decisions often means we must place them in care facilities that can provide in ways we simply are not equipped to do.
Father God, I thank you for the men and women who willingly and lovingly provide care for our loved ones in these places. I thank you for the daily kindness they extend to our family and I plead Your mercy and grace for the abusive words they receive at times from those they care for.
Lord, I thank you for your love and for holding us when we are broken down and hurting. I thank You that if we ask, You to help us know where we need to be. You will guide us each and every day.
Help us to trust You.
While You can be everywhere all at once, we cannot. We can only be in one place at one time. Help us to know each day where our one place is and help us to release to Your care the people and situations we are unable to attend to.
Lord I ask for sweet moments for both the caregiver and the loved one.
I pray for connections that soothe the woundings of harder times and I pray God, You would remind those who are in the trenches that You are not condemning them. You are not judging them.
You see the weight of the burden they carry, and Jesus Himself is shouldering it with each one.
Bless them Lord with rest and peace and strength.
I ask in Jesus’ Name <3