Friday, August 19, 2011

Sending Them Home

God's plans are so much bigger than my own. Earlier this week I decided what I would write about today. There was something on my mind that I was eager to put into words. But God had different plans. Instead a friend lost her elderly father and I saw this post going a totally different direction...a direction He led.

I cared for my own mother for many years before God ended her pain. Out of the three parents of my husband and I who have died, she was the only one taken slowly. I watched over a 15 year period as her body slowly deteriorated. Her vision, her ability to walk, her control over bodily functions. All changing her from the strong, active, self sufficient mother I had grown up knowing, into a woman who depended on me, and others, more and more for her care.
I wish I could say that care was always given with a cheerful heart...but it wasn't. It was hard work, and resentment and anger often accompanied the sacrifices I, and my family, had to make. I loved my mother dearly, and she saw little of the impact this had on me. She already felt like a burden, and I tried desperately not to add to that feeling. My feelings were hidden from her, but often my family saw the anger that was pent up there.

I was a true sandwich generation. An ill mother in her seventies and young children at home. My daughter getting her drivers license was a celebration because she could help with driving Grandma around! They grew up learning that caring for an elderly relative was simply a way of life. I hope that is a gift that will serve them well in their own lives.

Mom came to live with us in 2001. We had to purchase a larger home to accommodate her, but she paid us room and board to offset the financial burden this put upon us. I wish we did not have to take that money...but mom was financially well off and I only worked part-time to help care for her, so it made sense for us. I remember receiving praise from others about what a wonderful daughter I was. I didn't feel wonderful. I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I was doing what I felt I had to do in the circumstances I was given. 

By the time my mother died we had moved her to a nursing home. Not what I wanted, but it was necessary. My brother and I visited nine homes in one day to find ones that we liked. That was a almost year before she actually had to enter one. I highly recommend doing this in advance, without the stress and urgency that comes with last minute decisions. Mom died two days after her 80th birthday celebration. For her birthday we hosted an open house for her, and people wrote cards and letters filled with remembrances about what she had meant to them. We read all these to her that day. All of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were present, as well as several nieces and nephews. She died knowing how very loved she was.

To my friend...your dad too, died knowing how much you cared for him. You are not a saint. You are simply a good daughter. A daughter who shared his pain and struggles. A daughter who at times felt so very overwhelmed by the challenges caring for your father brought. A daughter who loved him unconditionally and was willing to sacrifice for him. A daughter who at times cried into a pillow or even punched it when you didn't know how you would continue to cope. A daughter who gave her father the dearest of all Today as you mourn his loss, I hope you also weep with tears of joy. Tears that know he is in His presence, dancing with joy.

I Can Only Imagine

God Bless ~Marla

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