Charlotte’s Page

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you.”  Psalm 39:7

In the spring of 2008, my world changed forever. On a Sunday morning after breakfast, my mother was in the very small bathroom at her Vienna WV  apartment that she and my dad shared.  She was getting ready for church as she had done her whole life. My father heard a thump and a cry for help.  He tried to open the door and get to her when he realized she had fallen against the door.  My terrified dad knew he could not get her out on his own.  He called 911 and after a short time EMS came and managed to get the door off and get to my mother. It was obvious to them that she had suffered a stroke and she was unable to help or move on her own power.

Being closer in proximity to my parent’s house than my other siblings,  I was the one who hurried to be with dad as soon as I heard she was in the hospital.  My brother (a nurse) called me at work to say mom had suffered a mini-stroke.  I felt within me a strong sense that it was more serious than a mini-stroke. My employer, after seeing my frightened face, allowed me to go home and prepare to leave for my parent’s house. After saying goodbye to my husband I was on my way.   The moment I entered mom’s  hospital room and saw her-I knew this stroke was a major blow. She did not know me. Her face was drooping in the characteristic sign.  Her eyes were not clear and bright;  they were frightened.  She could not speak.  My heart dropped, it was all I could do to not cry.  I felt I needed to be strong for my mom and dad. I took a deep breath and crossed over to the bed to greet mom with a gentle kiss and hug.  What had happened to my bright and cheerful mom?  My dad, ever the optimist in difficult times said: “it will be ok”.  It was almost more of a question than a statement.  “But now, Lord, what do I look for?”

I find myself, after all these years later looking again and again at pictures of my mom.  I have found I can easily tell the pictures taken before the stroke and after stroke.  She has bright happy eyes before the stroke, after the stroke they appear without light and dull.  The same is so with many aspects of her personality; before she was an active Godly woman.  She was loving and gracious to all.   A great cook, hospitable, a lovely singer, active in church and more than willing to lend a hand.  One of my dearest memories is of a period of time before our middle daughter’s wedding.  My daughter had asked me to make her gown. It scared and thrilled me at the same time.  On a trip home from college, my daughter and I took a trip down to Pittsburgh to a shop with specialty bridal fabrics.  We picked up some beautiful silk charmeuse and silk chiffon to make her dream gown.  After she returned to college I took out the fabric to cut out the pattern. I could not make myself cut that beautiful fabric.  What if I made a mistake, what if I ruined it?  I decided to call mom.   She suggested a trip to her house where we would do it together.  I will never forget the next morning when we were both trying to work up the courage to make that first cut.  Mom said, “How about if we cut out the lining first”.  Great idea- so it was laid out on the table and we both stood there with scissors in our hands shaking.  My dad walked into the room and said “what pretty fabric”, mom answered with ” It’s just the slip”.  We all laughed relieving tension giving us the ability to cut into that fabric.  The family was so important to her.  She beamed with pride on my daughter’s wedding day as she stood in that lovely dress before the ceremony. I can still see her in my mind’s eye adjusting the veil. The smile on her face and the light in her eyes beamed with joy.  “But now Lord?”

“Hear my prayer Lord, listen to my cry for help.”  Psalm 39:12.  The days following my mom’s stroke were filled with too much information, too many instructions and too many choices for dad to take in or understand fully.  The love of his life was no more. A new woman had taken her place with new needs to take care of, a new personality and a new and different life.  My father was a minister.  He had been the one for other’s to come to in their time of need. Now he was the one in need.  Several ladies at their church made sure we were supplied in the evenings with a meal.  I particularly remember a lovely stew waiting for us as we finally got home from the hospital one night.  I felt overwhelmed and too exhausted to prepare a meal. Over that delicious stew,  we talked through plans of how to take care of mom when she got home.  We also called my husband,  children, and siblings with updates.  Dad was always the kind of man who wanted to do things himself, he never wanted to rely on others to help him out.  He was also a man of prayer and confidently appealed to his God and Savior for help.  God does indeed hear the prayer of the brokenhearted.  He does come to our aid when we ask. We saw our prayers answered over the following days.   Help came in many ways, and from many sources.  Kind doctor’s, nurses and even social workers who helped place mom in a wonderful rehab facility.  Help came from many people who had been touched in one way or another by my parents.  Help came from many prayers offered up by many who loved my parents.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”  I do not know where you may be in caring for the one you love; the beginning, middle or nearing the end.  I do not know but can guess what difficulties what fears what questions and sorrows have come your way.  I want you to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  God does hear, He does care-so very much.  We see that in the birth, life and sacrifice of his son, our savior.  No other religion can boast of a God who loves us with such a love.  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” ( which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 Give him your burden to carry.  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46;1.   Let that sink in… an ever-present help.  Let him support you and the one you love through all the fears and all the anxieties. ” But now Lord?”  You can with confidence place your hope in Him.

May God Bless and Keep you in his care, as you care for the one who need you.  Please leave a comment below.  Let me know how I can pray for you.  I have also provided a link below which contains good information on how you can take care of your loved one.

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