C is for the challenges of caregiving . What kind of caregiving? The care that is given to the “least of these.” It requires a form of organized, well planned and willing selflessness where the “less” (beyond all understanding) becomes “more”. It is a great mystery that, I believe, is revealed to few people. It is found through the “narrow gate” where Love, mercy, grace and joy trump selfishness. The reward is freedom and peace! Is it easy? No! Is it predictable? No! Can it feel lonely? At times. Do others who are observing get strangely angry at the Caregiver for the “least of these ?” Unfortunately, yes. The key is faith and “faith (in Jesus Christ, the Son of God) is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11) . Help comes, encouragement comes, needs are met, new language is learned, love is filled up, the mind is renewed, patterns are formed, beauty is found in new places, moments become important because the least of these are usually living just a moment at a time.
B is for broken. Family can be broken through quarrels, selfish ambition, jealousy, disorder, vile practices, desiring what we do not have, coveting what we cannot obtain. Yet I choose…”the wisdom from above is first pure, then peacable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Brokeness can sow a harvest of righteousness through Christ. The Bible tells me so!
A is for away. Family can be away for many reasons. Away in their minds, away in their hearts, away in miles, away in death, away in sickness, away in anger…away…away…away. I may desire to reach them, or I may desire to allow the “awayness” to remain without trying to close the ‘away’ gap. Yet, in my heart I choose to hold on to my family through love. Love remains.
What are we going to do with mom? That was the question asked over and over after dad passed away. Mom had dementia/early Alzheimer’s. The live in caregiver was excellent, but way too expensive. Several of my siblings thought an “assisted living facility” would be great…we could visit her, she would have activities, she could meet others, she would get her meds, get her accidents cleaned up, they could deal with the trillion questions, keep her calm, and on and on. So it was decided…we found a lovely ALF nearby. The deposit was made, and mom would be moved in within a few days.
But something happened in my heart….it was a deep grieving…something didn’t feel right. Mom had five children…and this was the best we could do? No guilt trip on anyone here. All five of us had careers and families, but I had to deal with my own conscience. I explained to my husband that I needed some thinking time. I ended up at a local beachside, Victorian bed and breakfast (no packing, no clothes, no toothbrush…). A quick run to local pharmacy supplied me with a few essentials, and as I headed for the cash register I grabbed a journal. Entering my 3rd floor room (the only one that they had vacant on a last minute notice in April), I was delighted to find a private balcony with a gulf front view. I had arrived just in time to stand on the balcony and watch the sunset…I breathed in deeply of the fresh salt air. No T.V. tonight I decided, just the cd playing music in the background, a teapot, a teacup, warm cookies, a blank journal, and my Bible.
Opening the journal…it occurred to me to write mom a letter. A letter she would never read…but I was pretending that she would. After all, everything appeared “pretend” to me at the moment. I had entered a no time zone…and I began writing.