I began wondering today what people would say about me when I’m gone. She adored her husband, she was an amazing Mimi to five grandsons, when her son and daughter called, she always answered. We always loved her as our pastor. She was my trustworthy friend. This is wishful thinking on my part as I have always fought insecurity and intimidation. At my age, I can tell you that I now realize that God gifted me for this season of my life. That’s how I arise each morning with determination to step into His image throughout the day.
I could never have dreamed that my days would revolve around my hubby, Henry, who is battling Dementia. As he battles daily, our entire family is part of the infantry called into duty to feed, clothe and bathe. I had one of those meltdowns this morning after the nurse, who has been on daily visits this week, began informing me of what our tomorrows may entail. She explained that Henry is so frail at this time that he will eventually need to be kept in the bed as he is unable to be up and about now. Because I am always wanting the details, I began questioning how to change him in bed, how to take care of his physical needs. She immediately responded that she would walk me through the process.
The one reason I can even talk about our scenario today is because our family has been through so many seasons in our lives, seasons that we could never have imagined we could make it through. When Henry and I decided that my mom and dad needed to move in with us, I could not imagine what that scenario would look like. How in the world could we be full-time pastors plus I worked a full-time job, run a Bible college and take care of the needs of these two precious people that we both called Mom and Dad.
Henry immediately began house hunting to find the perfect place where three generations could live together and not be overwhelmed with the closeness of family. Of course, as he always did, he found the right place that would house us and our two high schoolers plus have a small apartment for our parents. When I talk about Mom and Dad, I have to always say “ours” because Henry was an exceptional son who always considered their needs. In fact, when he said we would be merging our households, I could not figure in a million years how Mom and I could do this – two strong women in the same household. Funny thing is that, when we moved in, Mom just settled in and allowed all of us to take care of her. We did not talk about the next season and yet, that season became easy to traverse.
At that time, I was working full-time as an assistant to a CEO of an undercover agency plus heading our music program at church. There were many lunches that I sat in the break room listening to music and learning lyrics for the next music practice. I would get off at 5 pm and head to church to prepare for practice. Now, Henry was just as busy building our church one family at a time. He would, some nights, teach Bible studies in the homes of two separate families, then walk in the door after our high schoolers were already in bed.
When Dad and Mom moved in, Dad was always in the kitchen making his famous lemon pound cake or sauerkraut or pork chops. There were certain foods that everyone knew was his best. Because we were now one big family, Dad expected us to be at the family table to eat with him and Mom in the evenings; however, there were many nights that Henry and I would come in late so we would eat at a local restaurant near the church. One night, we came in about 7 pm, and Dad was waiting at the door. He let us know that he had cooked a meal for us and we had not been there to eat. We apologized for not coming in earlier and excused ourselves to our bedroom. As we walked in the bedroom, Henry looked at me flushed and said, “Did Dad just scold us for coming in late? I feel like I’m the high schooler again.”
We eventually sat Dad down and explained that, just because they lived with us, we still had a busy life. We were not retired and could not stop living just because they had moved in with us. The reason we moved them in was to make life easier for them. They would no longer worry about house payments or utilities. They could save their money from the sale of their house and just enjoy life.
Because I remember this time with Mom and Dad in our lives is the reason I can now maneuver the place we are walking into today. Our son, Rob, and daughter, Kimberly, are two of the busiest people I know. They have hearts for God and are totally sold out to loving people back to life. They both are pastoring churches and Kimberly is traveling thousands of miles yearly speaking to ministries around the world. I understand that I cannot expect them to be here when beckoned. They are the same ages that Henry and I were when we became caregivers for our parents. We could not get off the train of life to take care of Mom and Dad full-time and yet, it worked. So, I am expecting, in this season, that whatever happens will be what God has ordained. He gives us the strength to make it day by day. We realize we cannot know what our tomorrows will bring, but we do know who holds tomorrow.
The one thing I want my family and my friends to say about me is that I just showed up. I was there when they needed me, and I did my best.