An unexpected fall caused a near pelvic disaster for my ninety-five year old Grandmother. Suddenly her life and the lives of my mom and I are hurled into new territory as she works to recover from a fracture in her pelvis.
“I think I must have done something bad and God is punishing me,” she said one day after a trip to the doctor.
“No, Granny. The Bible says all things work for good. And this will work for good too. You are now able to comfort and help someone else that will go through this same situation,” I explain. “God’s good is also making us more like Christ which I am sure is what He wants to do in me through this.”
We laugh but I really want to cry. The truth is I do not want to be a caregiver. But I’m sure none of us want to unless we are gifted in that area and provide this much needed service for others. The other truth is that I hate the fact that I don’t want to. I despise my selfish heart. The heart longing for sleep in my own bed without having to get up at all hours of the night. The heart tired of packing and unpacking a suitcase as my mom and I share in her care. The heart just wanting everything to return to normal.
Just as my grandmother questioned God, I too ask, “Lord, is this your sanctification in me?”
Sometimes God uses the hardship in another’s life to do a work in us also.
I know I’m never going to be nominated Caregiver of the Year. While I continue to battle my selfishness, I do now have a greater appreciation for caregivers.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned as a caregiver thus far:
-As with any other job, a caregiver’s work is unto the Lord. A friend text me to imagine that it is Jesus I am serving. The only problem with that is I don’t think Jesus would be as feisty as my grandmother. I do love her feisty streak though! Caregiving is a ministry whether to our loved one or a stranger.
-Be flexible. The doctor may say 6-8 weeks for recovery but plan on 8-12. My grandmother has some other minor issues that are slowing down her recovery. We have occupational therapists, physical therapists and bath aides coming at any hour of the day. Most with just an hour notice. Lunch suddenly needs to be eaten. Visitors have to leave. Being able to easily reconstruct the day provides peace in disruptions.
-Don’t expect other family members to help. Some will, some won’t and some can’t. There is a difference. Some will express gratitude and some will critique and offer their opinions from afar. Trust that you are doing the best you can and always let them know they are more than welcome to take part in the care of their loved one.
-Let “This is the day the Lord has made and I will be glad and rejoice in it” from Psalm 118:24 be your meditation. I’m sure God frowns on a curmudgeon caregiver. I’m pretty sure He is frowning on me. Try to be glad and rejoice.
-Make memories. A friend of ours has been caring for her father overnight for almost seven years. She tells her dad: “We are making memories!” Yes, this friend could be Caregiver of the Year. In the quiet of the evening when we are watching TV, I have used this opportunity to ask my grandmother questions about her life. I’m trusting that one day soon the fractured pelvis and all that went with it will just be a memory. Hopefully when Granny reaches one hundred years old we will even laugh about it and be amazed how we got through that time together.