the age of reality… be ready, not desperate

To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime.   Emily Dickinson

One son lives on the east side of the country with his family.  Three sons and their families live two hours (give or take) from us on the west side.  And I have walked in their shoes.

I know what it’s like to work for a boss all week, come home to kids’ wrestling/soccer/baseball/football/youth group/scouts, a broken washing machine, someone’s game on Saturday, and a Mount Everest pile of laundry.  Not to mention, you need to pay bills and buy groceries for a squad of soldiers.  You would really like to have one day at home to catch up, but instead, you all pile into the car and drive two hours south to Grandma and Grandpa.  You visit a little, eat a little, drive two hours back and boom… it’s Monday again.

monroe house abt 1988
One of those grandparent visits, 30-ish years ago.

Doug and I did that for years.  So when my sons and daughters-in-law do that for us, I appreciate their sacrifice of time.  I anticipate the visit and plan (hopefully) something good to eat.  But depending on what’s been happening here, it can be hard to switch gears from adult caregiver to relaxed, engaged grandma/friend/mom.  My bounce back is slower.  I am often distracted.

And when I think of Doug and I… there’s still a whole lot of life we want to live.  It’s not like we’re on death’s doorstep or anything, but then, how do you really know?  We certainly weren’t expecting his heart attack last year.  But it happened anyway.  And while he came through fine, it brought questions.

Just with the passing of time, things drop off that life “to do” list every year.  Will there be any time left?  And how, in Emily’s words above, do you “not become desperate” at the thought of something dear and hoped for to never materialize in your lifetime?

Several years ago when my mother-in-law was alive, I occasionally went to a caregiver support group.  I met two women in their mid 80’s who still came to the meeting even though their husbands had passed away two years earlier.  They continued to come just to encourage and offer hope.  The last meeting I attended there, the ladies had to leave early.  They’d been taking a class and were finally ready for their first kayak adventure.  And they had a ride to catch to Puget Sound in Washington.  That was an awesome offering of hope!

In her 70’s, my mom and three other women decided to meet weekly to make quilts and give them away.  This continued into her late 80’s, until she and Dad came to live with Doug and I.  I went to her final meeting of the “Sewers and Rippers”.  The group had grown to 50 or 60 women, they had given away over 6,000 quilts (more now), they were completely self-sustaining financially, provided college scholarships to young people in their church and devoted two weeks each summer to teach the younger generation quilting.  It made those years of her life meaningful and a memory to hold on to.

I’m proud of her accomplishments.  I love and respect her, yet she tethers me to a level of responsibility that is heavier than I bargained for.  She needs more help than I can give her, so I’ve started the process to find more in-home care.  With a little more help added to what we have, it will lift some of the burden.  She’ll be better cared for.  And hopefully, this will give Doug and I a little breathing room.

Will more time and advance planning let me be a face in the bleachers, cheering on a grandchild, or allow an occasional day at the beach?  I hope so.  And when the family comes here to visit can I be more focused on the people in front of me and less stressed about what I cannot change?  Definitely.  Plus, I have a husband who isn’t bashful about reminding me.

I’ve been tempted many times to throw away my languishing list of dreams and goals.  But that would be a mistake.  I can still have them and make a plan.  But instead of running those plans into a stone wall and wanting to give up, I will hold them loose.  I will hold them loose and trust God to bend them into place at the right time, for the right purpose.

~~~~~~~~   “to hope means to be ready at every moment”  ~~~~~~~~

Stone Wall

“all these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God”  Hebrews 11:13







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