Even at 81 years old, he can count backwards by threes, give snippets of his tour of the Korean War that ended in 1953, and tell all about how he ran his grandfather’s neighborhood corner store every summer from the time he was six years old. At the age of 10, he was supervising his grandfather’s workers from the back of a watermelon truck, doing their daily weigh-ins and paying them their wages for their day’s work. He tells of times seeing his grandmother in the kitchen cooking and thinking to himself how his mom does those very same things. When he talks, he tells of his love for his grandmother indirectly through the stories that spill out due to my inundating questions. It soon becomes evident why his children are her name sakes.
My parents divorced when I was around 5 years old. It was from that day forward I was self-proclaimed the most important girl in my dad’s life. On Saturday mornings my Dad and I would spend our time together at the A&W restaurant. I would have my usual: pancakes, sausage and a root-beer float, while my dad would quietly enjoy a cup of coffee and read the morning paper. Between his coffee sips, latest news updates and small talk with the waitress, I would go on and on about anything I thought was important. My dad always seemed to be listening and would respond to my gibber with a resounding, “Oh yeah?”.
Today, dads and my relationship has changed just a bit. I no longer eagerly wait for my dad to pick me up on our designated weekend. Nor do my dad and I use our Saturday mornings for eating pancakes, drinking coffee and root-beer floats. Because today, our roles have reversed and I’m not sure there is anything that can totally prepare one to parent a parent that has Alzheimer’s.
These days I talk a lot to my heavenly Father about the earthly father he gave me. I tell him about the stress I feel as a caregiver, the pressure of always wanting to do the best-right thing, all awhile hoping to have the strength to love on my dad for another 20 years if he needs me. I’m often looking for audible direction from God. Sometimes I eventually end up flooded with tears when I cannot seem to hear Him telling me what to do.
It is in these times that I tell myself, … The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion…<Psalm 145:8> For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our (my) guide even to death. <Psalm 48:14> And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. <Gal 6:9>
Thought to Ponder
When we start the beginning of any relationship journey (marriage included) we are never foreknowing of how it will end up. There will be peaks and valleys of different multitudes and degrees. Yet, what we do know is that God is full of concern over the matter, that He will be our guide through every uncertainty and that no matter what appears to be the opposing force to our progress – with God, we win.