As soon as I felt the prompting that I was to take my 93 year old Mother into our home to care for her for the rest of her life, I KNEW it would be HARD! Never had this been part of my life plan. I also knew if God wanted us to do this, then He would help us do it!
My Mother was not what you would call a real social person, and her diet was very extraordinary and difficult. For many years she took care of herself very particularly and now she couldn’t do it anymore. I wondered how I, or anyone, could ever care for her as she was used to.
My husband and I blended a family of fifteen children and had only been married a few years. Our lives were extremely busy! My sweet family agreed to the task. Because our current home was not handicapped friendly, we quickly looked for another home and made a sudden and monumental move during the holidays that exhausted us all. Mother moved in on New Year’s Day, before all the boxes were even unpacked.
Thus began the hardest three years of my life, which I now recognize as one of Heaven’s choicest blessed opportunities!
In no time I was completely overwhelmed! I am one of those people who regenerate in quiet space. The day to day routine of taking care of Mom did not allow for solitude. I found it hard to follow a thought all the way to completion. I was on the job by 7 AM until 9:30 PM with a baby monitor in my room at night. I had barely enough strength to shower and go to bed, only to start again the next morning. No sick time. No holidays off. No sleeping in on weekends. I quickly became depleted mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It seemed she only wanted me and resisted all my efforts to have others help.
My family really gave their all. The three children still at home showered Grandma with more love and hugs than she was used to. They talked with her, sang to her, and got her to smile regularly. She was glad to see them off to school and glad to see their return. She complained at the family noise sometimes, and then said how lonely it was when they weren’t home.
As her condition worsened and her care needs increased, my family really pulled through. Two of my daughters moved into our basement apartment to assist. Two other daughters came when they could to brighten her life and give me a spell. Daughters took turns sleeping in her room. My niece gave up other job opportunities to help on a regular basis. My brother and sister came occasionally to help. I knew how busy their lives were and hated to add to their burdens; but, I began to notice something magical happening to us all.
Those who compassionately served my mother came away better, stronger. Sometimes you think you don’t have time for something; however, when you take the time, it seems everything slows down, and your perspective changes to something softer and sweeter. You have a much better perspective of what’s really important.
Sure, there were many times I thought “I can’t do this anymore!” It was during these times that I fell to my knees humbly pleading with God for strength and guidance. Each time I came away feeling peace as well as inspired and guided with thoughts that were not mine previously. I always felt His love for me as well as my mother. I felt his confidence that I was up to the task. I was reminded to recognize my limitations and not to exceed them. I was encouraged to get more help, that others’ lives could be blessed also. I came away with added strength beyond my own. I came to feel the spirits of those in heaven, who loved my mother, were assisting and strengthening all of us who cared for her.
Somewhere, well into the second year, I noticed I had gradually changed. Instead of just hanging in there, pleading for the day I could have my life back, I found myself saying to God “Thy will be done.” I now knew He knew what was best for mother, myself, and all concerned. I began to trust in His plan, relying on His guidance, strength and PEACE! I even prayed “You just keep her here as long as it is best.”
We are on a wilderness journey here on earth. Life’s unexpected turns come to all of us. I have found that when I whine and complain about a challenge, it only gets harder. Many times even as I tackle a challenge “on my own” with my best positive attitude, it only gets harder. Caring for my Mother was one of these. Only when I humbled myself, on my knees, before the Lord, acknowledging my weakness, did I feel Him partner with me. I felt His peace envelope me. I was blessed with added strength beyond my own. He said “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you… and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30
Into the third year, so many helpers had come and gone. Mother, now 95, had had several close calls with death. I gave up even guessing what the future held. I was definitely living in the now. She was confined to her chair and unable to walk at all. Hospice nurses and aids came regularly. I had moved my computer into her room where I was always in her sight.
On the day she went home to Heaven, there was a tangible spirit of peace in our home, and especially in her bedroom. Family felt it as they came through the outside door. We had experienced panic and tears many times when we thought she was dying, but as she actually passed through the veil of this life to the other side, we felt a spirit of peace so strong it prevented most of our tears. Family who were out of town also felt her presence and influence. We knew she was in a better place! We knew she was happy! We knew she appreciated all that was done in her behalf! We also knew that it was all perfect timing, and that we were the blessed ones! We also knew, that if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, the source of real lasting peace, this experience would have been different.
It’s been several months now since Mother passed away. Unexpectedly, I still don’t “have my life back.” I am not the same person I was before becoming Mom’s caregiver. Each day I discover more blessings from this experience, and they all come from the ultimate source of true, lasting peace: the #PrinceOfPeace.
As we approach Easter this year, may we all find strength from the Peace He offers.