Mid-morning often found my mother sitting half-dressed, wet, and smelly on “her” couch in the den, while my father and I sat at the kitchen table, defeated.
Mom had said no. When she awoke and we helped her out of bed, she said no to the bathroom. No to dry clothes. No to her chair at the table and the orange juice and tea that awaited her there. No. Clearly, emphatically—no.
Dad and I knew time was the only help we could give Mom as she sat in these dark moods.
So we waited. Dad slumped forward, elbows on the table, head in his hands. I perched on the edge of my chair across from him, with short, desperate pleas for help threading through my mind like a mantra. When I became aware of my thoughts, I would stop, grasp the knots of faith hunkered down in my spirit, and start to pray again, consciously.
Eventually, though, we’d look at each other.
“The sofa’s been wet before, Daddy,” I’d say. “We’ll clean it up.” Then, more quietly, I’d remind him, “You know she always comes around. She’ll be clean and dry in an hour or two or three…we’ll just wait for the right time.”
“Yes, honey. Sooner or later.” Dad spoke in low tones that rose from between his hunched shoulders. “And you know….”
Here it comes, I’d think. I knew what to expect. Hope was on its way, like a bright balloon, getting bigger and bigger.
“And you know,” he’d say as he straightened his back, “the days aren’t all this way.” His voice would get a little lighter. “And the whole day’s not lost. In fact, by this afternoon she might be telling me ‘I love you, Daddy. I just don’t know what I’d do without you.’ We’ll just wait a while. Maybe I can get her to drink some juice.”
And there it was. Once again. The miracle of hope. The drive to try again. By the kindness of heaven and the power of the Almighty, my father never lost it. He conceded a battle sometimes, but he always returned to the field. He remained a valiant, loving, fierce warrior throughout my mother’s illness. He fought for her. He fought to keep her alive, to keep her at home, to keep her with him. Hope helped him fight. He never let it go.
- Hope. Expect it. Invite it in.
- Feed it by remembering past events that have seemed hopeless but have ended well.
- Even when you can’t find your own hope, talk about it to friends, family, other caregivers. Let them share with you.
Hope is the biggest miracle. It opens our eyes to see the other wonders that come to caregivers every day. We’ll look at more miracles next week.
Meanwhile, will you share your own stories with me and the caregivers who read this blog? We can give so much to each other, in spite of distance and time. Just scroll to the bottom of this page and click in the “Leave a Reply” space. We will all thank you!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…. Therefore we do not lose heart….We are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16 NIV).”
Father of all hope and encouragement, open our eyes to the power you give us to care for our loved ones every day. Fill us with the certainty that You are always with us, and where You are present, miracles abound.