Friday, July 15, 2005

De Nile Is Not Just a River in Egypt

The past several days have been odd ones for me. As I have noted here, my elderly parents have recently required a greater amount of my time and energy than I have been used to in the past. This investment of my life into theirs will likely increase in the weeks and months to come. This is difficult for me, as I grew up in a home where painful things were not discussed, where problems were minimized, conflict was not dealt with in a productive way, but, mind you, everything was always "fine". I have been in a state of denial for some time that this season of life was approaching.

I was raised in the 60s and 70s in a time where "dinner parties" were the big social event, and I played with Matchbox cars, Etch-a-Sketch, and electric football (where the little men jiggle like mad, and then fall over). My Mom wore a moo-moo when the guests came over, and served a "gourmet dinner", as my Dad called it. Much barbecuing occurred on the back deck by the pool. "Cocktails" were consumed prior to dinner, and after about age 15, I was the bartender. Only child bartender, imagine that.

Yesterday, my folks and I met with the social worker who is assisting in our care-giving, to discuss what comes next. We agreed that care will 8 hours a day, every day of the week. Someone will be there to watch over them all day, until they have completed dinner and are heading off to bed. Dad is worried that we will not let him drive any more, and I am not sure what to do about that yet. Mom is more amenable to moving to an assisted living facility, but Dad is not there yet, and may not ever be.

As I drove to my parent's home yesterday, I prayed that I might become a provider of grace, mercy, and peace to my folks. I hope that was accomplished. I am sure they are feeling stress and worry that they cannot speak of. After my 47 years, I have learned that they are not from a very communicative generation. I hope I can be more honest and freeing to my own girls as I age. My sweet wife purchased this book earlier in the week for me, and it has been a source of comfort. Another source of meaning has been this. Another book I have been thinking about getting a copy of is this.

I am loath to admit that all of these changes have had me thinking (is it selfish?) quite a bit about where I am in life, and suddenly realizing my own mortality as never before. Some day, these sad things will be happening to me. However, my prayer is that they may happen in an easier way, a more joyous way, and perhaps even a way filled with laughter. Is that possible? I hope so.

In the end, this life is a mystery. I want to embrace that, and be present in the moments of struggle and pain for Mom and Dad. This is what Jesus would have me do, I am confident. A touch to someone who is wounded, a listening ear to the woman at the well, a confidence that the Kingdom of God lies ahead.
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