“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” (Psalms 54:4 NIV)
Growing up and getting older, I’ve watched many friends and relatives go through the stress and anguish of having their parents get older and need to make the transition to additional care. It often started with children taking the car away from them. Then they had to leave their home for assisted care or even a nursing home. I would hear about the resentment, anger and resistance to any change. I would see the heartache, pain and stress in the family having to deal with it. I tried to empathize, but it was academic, because it hadn’t happened to me…yet.
A couple weeks ago, my dad, who lived in Puyallup, fell getting out of bed. He had been living alone with some daily help for meals and cleaning. He was not seriously hurt, but he was very confused and disoriented. He was admitted to the hospital and then placed in a nursing home. Though he improved, it was clear that he could no longer live alone in his home.
This was the “event” that would change his life and mine. It was the event that I had dreaded. It meant that I would have to step up and take seriously Ephesians 6:2, “‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise” (NIV). No longer was it enough to call every day or visit once in a while. It was time for a real commitment to visit and care for him.
I was scared. We were never a close family. I didn’t know what to do or what would come next. I am accustomed to being in charge, knowing what to do, following through to completion. Not here. I was lost.
Carol and I would pray in the morning for direction. By the end of the day, we would know a little more. I didn’t know what to do, so all I could do was rely on Jesus. I would ask Him to help me. And so it went, day after day, for several weeks. One day at a time, one little miracle after another would quietly unfold. I became closer to my dad. My brother and sister, who never got along, began to cooperate with each other. The physical therapists showed Dad how to get stronger. We found a good group home with excellent care and a caregiver that passionately wanted him to get better. This is still just the beginning of my journey, but I continue to learn the importance of seeking God’s help.
Bob can be reached by email here.