Sunday, June 27, 2010

Elder Care

I understand my dad’s unwillingness to go to a hospital. I would think this would motivate him to take his medicine. A handful of medicines correspond to alphabetized ailments-Alzheimer’s, blood pressure, congestion, diabetes…Possibly they make him feel tired or anesthetized, perhaps he doesn’t like the chemicals, maybe he likes control. Perchance he’s just plain paranoid.

My daughter Hailey and I went to visit dad on Father’s Day. He was very weak and every breath was a struggle. When I spoke to him about using an inhaler he said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” He will use expletives when he wants to be left alone. Vitriol and violence seethe beneath, leading to constant outbursts.

Straightforward and direct, Hailey lets me know her mind. Leaving my dad’s house we set out for dinner. Over sandwiches at Jersey Mikes we discussed my sunset years. The thirteen year olds’ bottom line: If I’m as cantankerous as “Grandpa” I won’t have Hailey’s support.

The way we react to the trials of old age are a response to the person we’ve become on the way there. I will respond differently to old age than my father. Albeit Alzheimer’s comes knocking my actions will be poles apart from papa. Primarily because Christ is at work in me to kill pride and promote humility. From that point of grace a thousand other decisions have led me down a different road than that travelled by my dad.

A friend’s mother, a godly woman and gentle spirit, wrestles with senility. After returning from visiting a long-time friend she commented, “I’d like to go and visit Ann.” My friend replied, “Mom, you just saw her yesterday.” To which she replied, “Oh! Did I have a good time?”

The weekend was a good reminder that my actions don’t occur inside a vacuum. Character qualities that I practice will, by God’s grace, flow out naturally in action.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…”

Photo appears courtesy of: Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library Accession Number: 15/5/3090.00176b

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