Lessons from Dad

June 14, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_pdfimage_print

A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Around Father’s Day, precious memories of my dad flood my soul! A lot of them came from his last year of life.

It’s funny how your parents seem to age all of a sudden. One minute you look at them and they look like your mom or dad. The next minute, some old person is looking at you. That’s how it was with my dad.

When my 84-year-old father’s hip broke, we knew it was the beginning of the end. First he went to the hospital to have a rod put in. The pain was excruciating. He was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, so he was very disoriented. We had to explain over and over and over again where he was and what had happened. He looked so frail and frightened. Any quality of life was gone. I felt guilty praying for God to release him from this world, and I felt guilty asking God to let him live. But I must admit, although I prayed for God’s will to be done, my heart’s desire was for our heavenly Father to just let him go, but He didn’t.

It was obvious Dad could no longer be cared for at home, so it was with apprehension that we placed him in a nursing home. After much prayer and discussion, we opted for a veteran’s facility about 30 miles from my parent’s home in the Midwest. It was a clean and a had a loving environment—something many in my dad’s position weren’t fortunate enough to have. It was also close enough for my stepmom to faithfully visit him for a few hours every day. My stepbrother lived about four hours away and came back almost every other weekend to help her drive. Since I lived in California, it was more difficult for me to get back to visit, but I tried to make it once a month and stayed in touch via telephone a couple of times a week.

At first Dad cried to come home but that was out of the question. His hip healed and he became a little mobile, using a walker and wheelchair. Although he was generally a mild-mannered man, he could wreak havoc out of frustration. My heart ached each time I saw him and I begged God to be merciful but prayed, “nevertheless, Lord, Your will be done.” Eventually, Dad settled in and started thinking of his little room as home. He didn’t fuss as much when Mom left each day.

It gradually became clear to me there might be many reasons why God chose to keep my dad alive, one of them being that I had a lot to learn through this experience.

I learned love from the staff at this care facility. It’s true they got paid for what they did, but no amount of money could give them the sunny dispositions they kept day after day. They tenderly cleaned Dad up and changed his soiled linen. The nurses gave him kisses, combed his hair, and made sure he ate.

I learned about going above and beyond. Even when Dad was placed in hospice, which everyone knew was the last stop before dying, they made sure he had a new air bed so he wouldn’t get bed sores, new glasses, and new expensive shoes to accommodate his hammer toes. It would have been easy to just say, “Why bother? He’s not going to last much longer anyway.” They didn’t. They wanted only his comfort and well-being.

I learned appreciation. It touched me how respected the vets were in the Midwest. Some organization was always bringing him candy, comforters, toiletries, or stuffed animals. School classes were constantly sending cards and letters of appreciation saying, “Thank you for fighting in the war,” and “Thank you for keeping America safe.”

I learned to take joy in simple things like an ordinary Bingo game. When some vet in a wheelchair without the use of all his limbs or hearing or sight yelled, “Bingo!” everyone cheered. There were also Craft Fairs where vets proudly displayed what they made. When they won a prize, they loved it when you congratulated them or took their picture.  

I learned compassion. There’s something quite moving about one vet without an arm helping another without his legs. At first the pain of seeing these guys in those conditions was too difficult for me to bear, but soon I had camaraderie with them. We were joking and sharing stories.

I learned selfless service. Many who helped at this VA facility were volunteers. Like Jack who helped the guys bowl with a special apparatus designed to hold the ball so all the men had to do was push. Each time I visited, I saw Dad’s little bowling trophy on his nightstand.

I learned to be happy for what I had instead of sad over what I didn’t have. When my dad saw me his face would light up! I was happy he knew I was his daughter even if he couldn’t remember my name. He’d say, “I know you! You’re my daughter!”

I learned even an Alzheimer’s patient can put his trust in God. Each day my dad played the same tape of old gospel songs over and over and over again. He’d sing and sing and sing. “Just a closer walk with thee…” “Oh they tell me of an unclouded day…” “I’ll fly away, oh glory…” We loved to sing together. When we’d sing, “Take it to the Lord in prayer,” he’d look over at me and say, “You know that’s true, don’t you? Don’t ever forget it!”

When the Lord finally took my dad home to be with Him, I was thankful for that last year I got to spend with him. What precious memories!

*****

O Father, I can’t thank You enough for giving me my dad. Because of him, it is easier for me to accept You as a loving Father. My dad has gone to be with You, and I know You will take good care of him. Please help me be attuned to other fathers and when I see them doing a great job with their kids, put in my heart to let them know. Parenting is a hard job. Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then.


Comments are closed.