Managing my father’s care for the next 14 months was like trying to manage the care of a child, only worse. Children are striving for independence and achieve it little by little. My father was striving for independence and was losing it by leaps and bounds.
A part of me tried to spend as much time with him as possible. I’d go to visit him at least one night after work and on the weekend. But part of me was angry and resentful. Taking care of my mother was different, not always easy, but more emotionally doable.
My dad was becoming someone I did not know. Eventually he was dressed, bathed, fed and diapered by others. He did show some recognition when we visited but could say few words. Mostly his eyes were blank and hollow.
I prayed for mercy; I felt as though whatever I did wasn’t good enough. I needed to know that God understood, and what I did was good enough. How could I keep the mental fortitude to witness this horrible transformation, and to keep going when I didn’t feel like I could.
In the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah, the fourth of the ten commandments reads:
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
The Quran reads: “Be kind to your parents if one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not a word of contempt nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. “(17:23)
Hindus teach: “The father, mother, teacher, elder brother and one’s provider- these five are considered as one’s superiors. He who desires prosperity should revere these superiors at all times by all means, even if he loses his life. The son should be devoted to them and make their care his first priority.” Hindu Teaching
Many other religions and world views teach the value of honoring one’s parents.
I knew in my head this was right, but my heart was still cold at times.
Your Own Household
Then I read the following written by Paul to Timothy:
“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these [the children or grandchildren] should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God… Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:4, 7 -8
I came to understand that I took care of my dad because I loved him, but also because I was called by God to do so. When we are called by God, and we listen, He will give us strength and mercy.
This song by MercyMe is appropriate.
These passages do not say we take care of our parents or grandparents when it is easy, or when they are pleasant to be around. It doesn’t say if our parents were mean and abusive in their previous years, we are off the hook.
But Nancy – you are saying – my situation is different – I have it a lot harder than you did! Read my next blog for my reaction.