With a baby there are sleepless nights, diapers to change and constant feedings. The mess they make is contained to a relatively small space.
With a helpless, aging adult there are sleepless nights, diapers to change and the challenge to find ways to feed them adequately when they’ve forgotten how to use knife and fork. And the messes, well, they can cover a mind-blowingly large space.
With a baby the work is hard and often isolating, especially for the stay at home parent. But babies are cute. The internet is loaded with helpful, funny, encouraging “mommy blogs”. You know this won’t last forever and the expectation is baby will grow month by month, year by year into an independent adult.
With the helpless, aging adult there is continued decline. Independence is gone. They are not cute. The process is isolating for the one being cared for and the one doing the caring. Although you know this won’t last forever, you can’t help but wonder “how long”. You feel like a jerk.
And I guarantee you, absolutely no one wants to read about it.
It’s not a pretty story. And oddly enough, the people you think might care the most want to hear it the least.
A few days ago I accidentally washed a little frog off the side of a flower-pot. Didn’t mean to do it, but with one misplaced splash of water, down he went. It took him awhile but he made the climb with his sticky, little feet (or whatever you call them on a frog) and eventually got to the top. I admired his “stick-to-it-ness”. Get it? Stick? Sticky? Ok, well…
Anyway, some days can feel like the frog that got washed away. It can take a while to get your bearings and find a new route to where you need to go. Especially when it’s hard to ask for help… because you never know what to expect from that.
But on this day the phone rang. And I didn’t answer it. Because it was the lady from the state who has an outreach to family caregivers. I didn’t answer. Outreach to family caregivers. What is wrong with me?
Because even I don’t want to read or hear or talk about it. I’m just trying to hang on. Don’t confuse me with help.
I did call her back, however. It’s the polite thing to do.
And she had just the right words. Information I didn’t know I needed. That came at the right time.
I’d hung on long enough to hear them.
My journal is filled with questions, as God helps me work through these years. Sometimes the occasional answer is even written down. Mostly I write in circles and lately it’s been frustrating.
But Jesus said he was leaving something behind…
I’m leaving you at peace. I’m giving you my own peace. I’m not giving it to you as the world gives. So don’t let your hearts be troubled, and don’t be afraid.
His Very Own Peace.
And again I’m reminded to lose the worry for the answers and not be afraid. Just take the free gift. And probably the phone calls too.
I had another bit of encouragement this weekend. I went to the Oregon State Fair for the first time in all the years I’ve lived here. One building housed a group of Oregon Authors. Imagine, piles of books and authors… all in one place!
Honestly though, it was a rather lackluster looking group. Except for one lady. She was on her feet chatting with other fair goers. Everyone else was quietly seated. Most were hesitant to make eye contact. No business cards. But this lady, she had a table full of pretty, purple books, leaflets to hand out and directions to her Amazon page.
She was an energy magnet that pulled person after person to her table.
And she is 94 years old.
She did caution me though, “don’t wait as long as I did to write your story, dear”.
“I have three more in me and time is running out!”
Thank you Ruby Williams Jones for, The Heart of the Homestead. Thank you for not giving up on your story.
And thank you, Jesus, for taking on the weight of those words that some don’t want to hear. And loving us all anyway.