Fathers and Others

It’s been an eventful weekend for me.

I spent the last three days caring for my brother as he recovers from surgery — or at least that was the plan. He ended up spending a bit longer in the hospital than expected, so my care-giving was redefined. While he was under the watchful eye of doctors and nurses, I cared for his home.

Cleaning House

My brother lives out in the country, about 40 miles away from us. So after I packed my bag, I did what any loving sister would do: I took a trip to Trader Joe’s! I bought some of our favorite snacks and some ingredients to prepare a few healthy meals for him. But when his hospital visit was extended, I decided to stay and enjoy this time alone as a bit of respite for myself.

Yesterday I cleaned his house from top to bottom, and even rearranged his living room to make better use of his space. (With his permission, of course.) In between vacuuming and dusting, I took frequent breaks to sit outside on the patio, swinging on the swing and listening to the birds. It was so peaceful!

In reality, my mind and body both benefitted from the cleaning. And the house looks pretty good too.

Stepping Into the Gap

We lost our father while we were both in our 20’s. It was a horrible blow, especially to Mom. But we clung together for support, and leaned on each other for strength over the years. My brother has been by our mother’s side for over 33 years, stepping in and taking care of what needed to be done. This was especially important when I moved to Virginia.

In so many ways, he took on my dad’s role. He helped with household repairs, financial decisions, and simple day-to-day tasks. And he never complained. Not once. And decades later, he packed up all their belongings and moved Mom closer to us so we could continue to support one another as her health declined.

While my brother is not a father himself, he became father-like in his role. I can never thank him enough. And if our mom had her memory back again, even for one brief moment, I know she would thank him too.

God blessed me with an earthly father, and I miss him so much today. But He also blessed me with a caring big brother to watch over our family when Dad was called home to heaven. Today I am grateful for both.

Happy Father’s Day!

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

I’ve seen those words together so many times before, even printed on everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts. I truly know what they mean, for I am all three.

We enjoyed a busy Thanksgiving Day in our home. It was full of food and family, and one more recent tradition — watching the National Dog Show. This year was particularly exciting for me because my favorite breed, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, won for the Herding Group! I‘ve never owned a dog, but if in retirement I find myself on a small farm (apparently a growing possibility, if you ask my hubby), a Corgi may enter the picture. At least, there is one in my imagination, sitting beside me on the front porch as I sip my morning coffee. 🙂

But that will have to wait for a future post . . .

I am thankful. We were feeling especially blessed to have Mom with us this Thanksgiving. She had emergency surgery last Monday to implant a pacemaker, and is feeling so much better now. And since everyone was home for the holiday —including our son, who drove all the way from Flagstaff, AZ — we decided to decorate our Christmas tree while the turkey roasted. We have learned that when a loved one has dementia, you make the most of every  moment. Even though they may not remember, don’t miss the opportunity to see them smile while making your own family memories.

I am grateful. We took our time at the table, savoring the delicious dinner and a rare moment when our entire family was all together sharing a meal. Mom didn’t say a word, but listened to our conversation and ate every last bite of food on her plate. We talked about past holidays and laughed at stories from our childhood. My brother and I often search our mother’s face for a glimmer of recognition, but receive only a faint smile. He pats her shoulder and reassures her, “It’s okay, Mom.” She was too tired for dessert, so my brother took two slices of pie to go, and drove her back to the nursing home.

I am blessed. After the dishes were done and the leftovers were packed away, I gratefully settled in for three days of rest. The next morning, I stayed in my PJs until late morning, enjoying the peace and quiet while everyone else slept in. I love weekend mornings for the solitude. It is my coffee time, my quiet time. I purposely avoided the Black Friday madness, opting instead for a bit of armchair shopping and a cranberry orange scone. I even enjoyed the cold, rainy Saturday that followed, particularly because I had nowhere to go.

I have learned that giving thanks is a daily practice that extends far beyond a festive table laden with food. I am thankful, grateful, and blessed for and by a God who loves me and continues to guide me through each day, no matter what it brings. Every dawn that breaks is a new opportunity to give gratitude to Him, and also seek new ways to share my many blessings with others.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.‭‭ – Psalms‬ ‭100:4‬

Amen.