Saturday, February 18, 2012

A time and a season and a beautiful gift.....

Life is a challenge sometimes. It's just the way it is. We can take those challenges and grow, or we can let them stunt us and make us bitter, or angry or selfish or all of those. Sometimes we have to put off the things we would like to do, either for lack of resources or time or both.
It's been an interesting journey working with my in-laws as we try and make my father-in-law as comfortable as possible. This has meant that I'm not home most of the week, and that my husband and I only get two nights together alone. My social security benefits are dwindling as I've not been able to contribute for the past 3 years due to helping others. I won't be doing any repairs on our retirement home this summer as I haven't made anything towards that goal. On the flip side, I've seen the tears of gratitude as I help my father-in-law settle in for the night. I've seen the fear in my mother-in-laws eyes as she watches her husband waste away and have been able to help calm her. She knows that she will be without him soon and worries that she will be a burden to us. Sometimes she retreats to her happy place mentally and pretends none of this is happening and since she can't really see or hear very well it requires that we work to divert her attention away from Dad so she isn't asking more of him than he can give. The moments of pleasure she gets when she wins a game of Upwords, or when I find a picture or graphic she can use in her letter writing is worth the effort. My heart breaks when as she asks Dad if he wants more food or milk or whatever and he says no she gets offended. She thinks he's rejecting her, not realizing or truly seeing just how much he's struggling just to be at the table. Sometimes she doesn't hear his response and gets impatient with him, so we have to gently interject. Funny though, that although there are things she refuses to recognize, she will always ask a blessing on those who are helping when it's her turn to bless the meals, as she does know she just can't keep up any more. It's so sweet to hear her go through the list of nurses and aides as well as hubby, his sister and hubby and me. So we have the sweet with the challenge. My biggest challenge is sleep when I'm there and lack of exercise. I have to take that day by day, depending on whether we had a good night or not. There are days when I can tell she doesn't want me around, she wants to do it all and if you get in the way she gets snippy. Having someone always there, doing what you used to do, taking up space in a teeny tiny house, and never having real time to yourself or spouse must be hard. So I will hide in my tiny bedroom there and she will find me when she's ready for real company. Other days I can do no wrong. I'm always glad for those days as it makes life easier for Dad as well.

 There are those whose hands are in need of holding, and those who just need to get to work and get a life.  We better have a good attitude and forgiving heart or the grievances we carry may come out as we age. The little bits of inspiration we get as we try to seek help in prayer are a reassuring testament that Heavenly Father is always there for us, especially as we try to do His will. Having a user friendly home will be so important as we age. Hubby and I have had a debate on tub versus shower. Ugh! I want my tub! I love to soak my weary bones after a long week or a day in the yard. So we will have to see if we can have a walk in shower/tub installed, the kind you see in all the ads nowadays. Not sure it will fit, but we shall see. We may need to consider changing homes when we retire so we can be ready for whatever comes our way, at least as much as possible. I'm seeing that faith can waver, and that our testimonies are fragile and need constant nourishing. I'm learning that I'm not as physically strong as I used to be. Stress can take you down quickly and it has gotten me at a point where there are days when I'm constantly on the verge of tears. I have to assess whether it's because I'm being selfish as I want to do something, or whether it's just fatigue. Sometimes it's just the food. I really like lots of fresh fruits, veggies and so on, and they are meat and potatoes folks. So I compromise when I can get to the store. I get cranky when I don't have fresh stuff around.

The nurses and aides say things are much more peaceful and calm when I'm there. I can afford to be more calm as these are not my blood parents I suppose. We are coming to the end of this phase in our lives. Dad is barely hanging on now. Each day becomes more of a chore for him and he prays every night to be able to go home. He is slowing down on his eating, and he is getting weaker and weaker. He will soon be bed bound and then Mom will really go into a panic. We've been blessed by an incredible nurse and aides who take such good and gentle care of Dad when they put him to bed and get him up. They have become like family to us. I have been blessed, as I have finally had an opportunity to help someone move from this life to the next in the best way I know how. To be able to ease Dad's fears, and comfort Mom when she gets anxious, to be able to set a calm tone so that the rest of the family isn't anxious, and to know that I can do that because I know that God lives, what a wonderful gift that I've been given. Thank you Heavenly Father, I hope I'm doing okay.....

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