“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and Life is worth the living just because He lives” William and Gloria Gaither 1971
I stood at the head of my dad’s hospital bed. We had just been told that dad would not make it through the night. My dad had been a minister of God’s word. He knew he was dying, but he also knew God was indeed in control of his future. He had no fear of death, all fear was gone. He was, however, concerned for my mom and her future. He looked me in the eye as he lay on his deathbed and asked me to take care of mom. I did not hesitate, for we already had mom in our care, but this opened up a new and unknown world to us. There was no question in my mind of whether or not I was capable. After all, I was medically trained. I worked in a hospital and caregiving was my life. My husband is a caregiver by nature. There was no hesitation, no feeling of uncertainty that we could do this. We were a team. My dad needed the assurance from me that the light of his life would have a home and family to love and care for her. I am so happy that God put everything in place for us to be able to do just that. I had always been determined to keep my parents out of any kind of nursing home if at all possible. The memories of my grandmothers both living their last days in a place full of strangers had left me with a bitter taste for nursing homes. I had also spent time working in a nursing home. I felt no sense of happiness for the residents who lived there. Their rooms did not feel like home. So many residents endured one long day after another with no visitors. Years later, my husband’s mom spent far too long in a rehab/nursing home. Between my husband, myself and my sister-in-law, we took turns flying down to Florida to be with her. Through that experience, we learned how very important it is to be a strong advocate for your loved one. More than once my mother-in-law became extremely ill while staying in the nursing home. If we had not been there to advocate for her, she would have quickly perished. Eventually, she became stable enough for us to bring her to Pennsylvania to live with us.
In both cases, we felt the need to make sure that our loved one was comfortable and surrounded by family. I did make an attempt to step into their shoes a bit. How terrifying it would be to get to the point where you are unable to care for yourself. You would not feel secure about what your future held. I believe faith in God’s care made all of the difference at this stage of their lives. These two women were women of faith. They had leaned on the Lord to take care of their world and their place in it. I clearly remember my mom singing “Because He Lives”, with all her heart. She believed deeply in God and His care for her. His care continued after she became a widow and moved into our care. God had gifted my husband and myself with exactly what we would need to take care of her. The provision of God was again apparent when we took care of my mother in law. The cases were completely different, my mom had dementia, my mother-in-law was sharp as a tack. They both had very different needs and illnesses. God took care of their future it was in His hands. In both cases, there were difficult, dark and scary days, but there were also many bright and happy days. Days filled with opportunity to let them both know how much we loved and cared for them.
Life is worth the living, and because He lives we are able to comfort and care for those most important to us. God will provide what you need emotionally, spiritually and physically to be the caretaker your loved one needs most. May our God and Father be with you and bless you as you go through this journey of giving care to your loved one.