Monday, August 06, 2007

For Everything There is a Season

(Nashville) My mother in law has lived with us for the past 4 years or so. She has had a few extended visits with her other children but for the most part she has been a member of our family. She goes wherever we go. She attends church every Sunday with us and goes with us when we go out to eat which is often. I have told all the mother in law jokes and I laugh and others laugh and she laughs. I have asked more than a few people if they would like to keep her for a while – that I can have her at their house by 10AM the next day on Federal Express. We laugh and we go on.

But tonight I am not laughing.

My mother in law is spending her first night in an Assisted Living facility in Warner Robins tonight. I just spoke to my wife on the phone and she is struggling. I could hear it in her voice. She is not struggling about the decision that has been made but she is struggling with the fact her mom is at the place in life where she can no longer be alone. And that is a major event in the life of any child. And it is a major event in the live of any person who has reached that stage in life.

And it is also a major event in the life of a husband who cannot be there for his wife on this “major event” night. But thankfully her sister is there with her and that is probably exactly the way it should be. God has a way of working those things out.

Thankfully my mother in law is excited about her new apartment and her move. She and her children actually visited the facility with the prospect of her staying at this facility only during the day while Kathy was at school. But when she visited and saw it, she immediately decided she wanted to move in. A woman of great faith, she said that moving to this facility is the next step toward heaven. I don’t know how anyone could have a better attitude. My wife and her sisters have spent the weekend decorating her room to make it just right. And I can tell you it is just right.

Truthfully her time at our house the last four years has not come without sacrifice. Anybody who has ever had a parent live in your home knows what I am talking about. My wife has had a few meltdowns. And I have had a few meltdowns. I’ll never forget the time I came home late one night from traveling to find my mother in law in my bed under the covers on my side sound asleep. And there have been a few times I wanted to take a shower and my mother in law was in it. And there have been a few Saturdays I wanted to take a nap on the sofa and the sofa was taken. And there were a few times my wife and I needed to have a private conversation that we could not have. And there have been a few times we were late to church or didn’t get to go to church. And there were times I would have much rather eaten dinner alone with my wife. And the restaurant checks have been higher more than a few times because we had an extra person on the bill. And I could go on.

But it is not what we take up, but what we give up that makes us rich.

And in giving up some things we gained so much more than we would have gained if we chose not to give it up. There is no doubt that one of these days we will look back on these past four years and realize they were the richest years of our lives. I saw a daughter get to spend an awful lot of time with her mother who sacrificed much more for her own kids than we ever sacrificed for her. And I saw my own children get to spend an awful lot of quality time with the only grandparent they have living. And memories have been created that will be passed down for generations to come. And this son in law had some long conversations with an incredible human being that did an amazing job as a single parent under very difficult circumstances. And I learned a lot about her and a lot about life.

To receive the level of care she deserves and has earned, the time has come for my mother in law to move to this facility. There is no doubt this move is the right thing to do. But she will have more visits that she can imagine. When I drive into town from who knows where I have a strong feeling my first stop before I get home will always be to check on her. I can make her laugh. And you can bet your bottom dollar I will keep on making her laugh until there are no more smiles in her.

Years ago my mother in law owned a flower shop. She had these words from Ecclesiastes painted on the door of that shop: “For everything there is a season.”

That is really true.

And we are living it out right now.


Anonymous said...

6:30 am
Mia just called and asked me if I had read your blog. I stopped everything and woke up my computer. I woke Lynn up and read it to her, We laughed and we teared up. The truth of the matter is the Lord has blessed me with an incredible mother and an awesome husband. I watched Luke and Drew spend some special moments with Grandma.
For everything there is a season. God's timing is always perfect and His ways are right. He gives us strength,grace ad peace when we need it and not before.
I love you!
Kathy G

Donnie M said...

Great story Bruce.Seven years ago my dad lost the better part of his health.The truth is we thought he would not make it through the situation he was in.God had other plans however.For the season we are in now I have the priviledge of putting my dad to bed every night at 10pm.I see it as an honor to do this for him in this last season of his life.Funny how God can take a bad thing and turn it into something very special.

Judy S said...

God has and will continue to bless you and Kathy. I know that it hasn't been easy but look at it this way. Our parents care for us and our needs and now it is time for us to do so. I don't look forward to the day when I have to do the same thing. I know that daddy isn't getting any younger, even though he thinks so. I just thank God for every good day that he has.

Anonymous said...

There is a saying that is appropriate for everyone "Once a man twice a baby". A friend of mine is experiencing this with his father right now. It will happen to us all if we live long enough. It gives us a chance to do what our parents did for us.

Anonymous said...

What a great blog, Bruce.
We love Ms. Irene.
Barbara G.

Sandra Arnold said...

Bruce and Kathy
You two will be greatly rewarded for taking care of Ms. Irene. She is a wonderful lady. Since my Dad passed away my Mom is having a difficult time. I can see her health decline daily. One day I may have to take her into my household.
I get such a blessing reading your blogs every day.

KAT said...

Mr. Goddard:

Your wife may get this "I'm NEVER going to put my so and so in a home" nonsense. I got some of it myself from a coworker. My answer to them; they should leave your wife alone.

My family may face a similar dilemma as we did with my Dad. We chose home care due mostly to finances. The day may come to make the decision again. I am sure your wife paced floors, agonized, etc about this. If home health care isn't feasible there's no other choice.

A month ago I blogged about my Dad's loss. I want you to know that we're coping fine though it'll likely hit us hard on holidays.

Secrets; don't obsess over losing someone; keep going and do what they taught you and what they want you to do (other than steeplejacking :).

Oh and I know about the single-bathroom situation; it demands patience with extra people staying over.

God be with you and your family

Susan said...

I am blessed everyday by your blogs.
I haven't faced this situation with my parents yet, in fact, I am so blessed to have both of my parents alive, and for the most part, doing very well. That day will come, I know. Right now, I enjoy the time I can spend with them. I don't get to Fort Valley as often as I should, but they come down here to Brunswick as often as they can. Daddy loves to work on my house!
Keep those blogs coming. I enjoy reading everything you write.