Monday, April 1, 2013

Choosing My Nursing Home

This is a follow-up to my last post entitled “Don’t blink” I started my blog to raise autism awareness and encourage people to interact with people who have special needs. So the way that post was received took me by surprise. I received a lot more feedback than usual. Many people told me it was their favorite post to date. I decided I’d take another stab at blogging about parenting, in general. Thanks again to those who have encouraged me.   

Last week I accompanied my dad to a pre-op meeting. He is going to have some knee surgery. He has a terrible cold and his knee is bothering him so I convinced him to sit on a bench while I went to retrieve the car, saving him a few steps. He was reluctant to let me, afraid to inconvenience me, but I was able to persuade him to allow me to save him the extra exercise, which he did not need.

As I walked away, I wondered how many times my dad had gone out into the cold to do something for me, or how many hundreds and thousands of steps he had saved me over my lifetime. I wondered how many kind deeds he had done for me that I could remember and how many that I will never even know about. Why did I offer to save him those steps? Because I love him. If you have good parents you will understand. We love our parents because they taught us what love is, by loving us first. If asked to describe the devotion involved in a child/parent relationship, I’m certain I would never be able to put the depth of love and commitment into words. 

My mom and dad are in their eighties and have been parenting me for almost fifty years. That’s a long time of putting someone else’s needs first, counseling them, encouraging them, and praying for them. My dad can’t do as much as he used to be able to do. He used to be able to work on hydraulic elevators, and fix almost anything that was broken. He cannot do those things anymore. I’ve seen him struggle to finish much more simple tasks lately. My dad, my hero, a man of steel, sometimes needs me to do things for him now. So, I will be there for him, the way he was there for me. I will let him sit on a bench while I go and get the car. I will help him take care of my mom. I will do many of the things for him that he once did for me. I will put his needs before mine. 

Putting others’ needs first: isn’t that what it’s all about? The golden rule?  ...whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12). It was Jesus who spoke those words. If everyone lived by the golden rule, there’d be no need for any other rule. My mom and dad taught me that rule. If we were to all teach our children that one thing, we could change the world in one generation. Think about it. 

I hope my husband and I have instilled the Golden Rule well in our own children for many reasons, one being: they will pick our nursing home. (haha)  We’ve had a sort of joke around our house for the past few years with our oldest two sons. When we aggravate them, they sometimes say, “Be careful, I get to pick your nursing home.” It seems a long way off, getting old enough for a nursing home. But in reality, time flies. Our lives are compared to vapors in James 4:14.  As I said in the last post, “Don’t blink.”

As my parents become elderly and I’m living my middle-aged years, my oldest children have become young adults. Yesterday morning our oldest son called home to ask his dad for some advice about a car that wouldn’t start. I wondered how many of those phone calls I have made: “Mom, what’s that recipe for…..?” and “Dad, come quick! There’s a raccoon in my chicken house!” As I listened to my husband’s side of the phone conversation, I could hear how willing and happy he was to help our son, as best he could, over the phone. It’s like coming full-circle for me. My husband and my dad are both very wise men. I’m switching gears here and no longer talking about their ability to help with engine repairs or unwanted varmints. Although their knowledge of mechanics and their shotguns have come in handy over the years, their Bible knowledge and wisdom is what really matters. Our oldest called home a few months ago to ask his dad’s political opinion on an issue. Shawn didn’t give him a short answer, but helped him reason it out himself. After they talked, my son wrote this in a blog post: “My dad is the smartest man I know. He’s not a doctor, lawyer, scientist or professor. Ironically, he didn’t even finish college. I’m talking real-world-experience-smart. He’s always pushed me to make hard decisions and trained me to learn from my own mistakes—mistakes, by the way, that he encouraged me to make on my own. This life is a learning experience, and my dad’s my favorite teacher.”  

That blog post, written by my son, touched me and made me realize that our son sees his own father the way I see mine. I wish everyone had the kind of dad I have. I wish everyone had the kind of dad my children have.

My wonderful parents
My folks will hopefully be with me a few more years, but years go so quickly for me lately. Is getting old scary? If I live to be their age will the reality of my life ending be terrifying? My parents seem tired but they don’t seem terrified. Their influence will live on in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They have a lot of things to be proud of. The apostle Paul wasn’t afraid of death. He said “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Why wasn’t Paul afraid of death? Because he knew what waited for him after death. The apostle John tells us that we can KNOW we are saved (1 John 5). If I am sure I will spend an eternity in Heaven then what’s to be afraid of? 

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful reflection on what it means both to be a parent, and to have good parents. I know my parents have done a lot for me, over the years, too, truly more than I will ever know, and I try to pass it on to my children, as well.