I was so happy to find this blog! I’m encouraged to see so many believers linked to one site. Writing is mostly a solitary venture, and finding other writers who share your philosophy makes it a little less isolating. So, thanks to the founders of Blogs for Christian Women, the gals who stepped out in faith and created a cubby for connecting with other sisters in Christ.
Most of my prayer life these days stems from helping my parents, who are 90 and 93. I never thought I would be in this place. Never thought my folks would live into their nineties. Never thought Dad would suffer a stroke in 2009, or slowly develop Parkinson’s over the years. I never thought Mom would slowly lose her hearing, or need back surgery, or fall and badly break a shoulder and need more surgery. These days, neither one can walk on their own. They both have a bit of dementia. I never envisioned any of it.
Skipping around the world as a career Air Force wife, raising three children, teaching, writing, hitting the gym, trying new recipes….my life was adventuresome and blessed. I never thought about the phase of life I’m now in. I don’t know why – I know we all age and eventually pass from this life. I just never considered that I would be, at some point, a caretaker.
It happened slowly. After Dad’s stroke, he needed some help, but eventually got better. Then, Mom had back issues, needed surgery, but got better. Then, they began to fall, needed more supervision. Pretty soon, they needed to move to an assisted living facility (ALF.) Within a span of five years, they went from being independent to wheelchairs. I have lived with a persistent sadness ever since.
Before you click away, thinking, what a gloomy post this is, let me say that I have learned more about myself and God in the past five years than I learned in the decade prior. I’d like to share with you what God has shown me.
- If you are genuine about serving the Lord, you must be unattached to your own agenda. Whatever game plan you have for your own life, be willing to toss the playbook aside if God changes the rules.
- Watching your parents decline is sad. At some point, they are not going to get better. There’s no way around that. However, it’s OK to be sad. Grieving our health and our youth and vigor is expected. It helps to remember that this world is a temporary pit stop. We were never designed to be on the planet forever. God has a permanent home for us that will dry all tears and bring lasting peace.
- My glaring impatience revealed itself early on in caring for my folks. I didn’t know how locked in I was to having my own timetable until I was forced to move at a geriatric pace in order to help Mom do anything. It hit me how selfish I was. I think of Christ, who met everyone right where they were, and spoke immediately to their soul, not to their disabilities.
- Right when I think I’m not comfortable taking on more responsibility as a caretaker, God gives me another thing. It’s happened more than once. I think He likes to mess with me. What I’ve now accepted is this – until my folks are in heaven, God is going to keep giving me things to do. I’m the one He has placed in this position, and if I trust Him, I will be OK. So the question becomes, daily – do I trust Him? (Yes, I do.)
- Our kids are watching. How I care for my parents is how they’ll care for me.
- God is good ALL THE TIME. Not just when the folks are stable, and I’m getting enough sleep. But, when Dad’s in the hospital, and Mom has a UTI, and there’s no hot water at their ALF, and my house is a wreck, and I’m not getting any writing done. He’s good even then.
- There can still be laughter. Mom calls her pantiliners “i-pads.” A resident at the ALF takes her teeth out to eat and tucks them in her bra. We still celebrate the holidays together and share stories (sometimes the same ones) and go to the ice cream shop and pray together at church. Aging takes the body’s strength and acumen, but it can’t eradicate the spirit, which is where God resides. That’s the connection that will not be broken.
- Someday, probably sooner than I will be ready for, God will call my parents home. This season of my life will end. I don’t know what God will ask me to do then, but I pray I will be unafraid. He is leading me though this unexpected journey, and I believe He will continue to guide me in whatever adventure He has lined up next.
Marianne is a former educator, a caretaker, a couponer, an upcycler, and brownie baker. She’s always looking for ways to simplify life and never clean a bathroom again. You can visit her at her blog Adventures in the Ballpark , on Facebook or on Pinterest. She also contributes to the blog Mormon Mommy Writers. She’s not Mormon, but they like her anyway.
Thank you for your reminders about the blessings in this phase of life. Though our family is three years beyond caregiving for my mother, we are still in the phase of caregiving for my husband’s parents, albeit with the help of a larger family. We do try to keep the laughter going–I love the smiles on your parents’ faces!
Regina Erickson says
I appreciate you helping us remember how this can look. While we wait & persevere – remaining joyful and clinging to peace.
Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.It was not gloomy at all. You love your parents and I was blessed and inspired. Continue to move forward, knowing that God has provided for every situation.