I never knew how rewarding taking care of a grandparent could be! It all began about a month and a half ago. My 87 year old grandfather had broken his hip and my uncle could no longer care for him, so we asked if we could please take him into our home and the permission was granted!! That started us on an amazing journey!
My grandfather has never really been that close to any of us children. He was close to his children, but never really put forth the effort to get to know his grandchildren. We visited him, but there was just something missing. Now we were told his memory (especially his short term) was gone, he only had one working kidney (and even that one wasn’t working the greatest), he had a broken hip, etc. The doctors told us that he was going downhill fast and probably wouldn’t make it that much longer. Little did they realize!!!
As I write this, I just have to smile and thank Yahweh! I feel like He has redeemed the last 29 years! As my grandfather’s primary care giver, I have gotten especially close to him. His memory is almost 100% back, his kidney working great, his hip almost completely healed. He laughs…I mean really laughs!!! I sit on his bed around 4:30-5:00am, both sipping our hot coffee together talking about just about everything! We talk about memories, about what we want to do in the future, what things need to be done, dreams, but best of all, we read the Bible together. You see, my grandfather is not a believer, but he listens intently and sometimes even asks questions about what is being read. It’s been amazing!!!
I have to stop and ponder though…what would have happened if we had agreed to place him in a nursing home (which we never would have, but still!)? He wasn’t eating or drinking. They had him on 2-3 PAGES of medications! He’s off of everything as I type this, which has made an incredible difference both physically and mentally!!! He was losing weight, now he’s gaining it. He wasn’t eating, now he eats a ton! He’s drinking a ton, too, which has really had an impact on his kidney function! His health, although going downhill at a pretty quick rate before, has shocked everyone, especially the doctors. He has done a u-turn and continues to run up the hill to complete health.
But why the change? I honestly believe that 1) Yahweh chose to restore his health and give him a second chance at getting to know Him, but also 2) being surround by a loving family.. Our aging parents don’t belong in a nursing home, they belong with their family, surrounded day and night with love and life. Being around everyone stimulates their brain cells like nothing else could. Nurses, although they can care for you physically in most cases, can not provide you with the love and affection that you need. It is a proven fact that people need loving touch. They need that one huge ingredient called “Love”. That, along with Yahweh (who is Love), makes a world of difference. Yes, supplements are helpful, but they are still missing an ingredient called Love (and attention). Watching first an elderly friend who I helped care for along with my sister for a few weeks, and now my grandfather, really drives this point home. You can provide two types of care. Both types “physically” takes care of the persons needs. They are fed, clothed, changed, etc. But without the stimulation of love, you have missed something that could ultimately lead to their death. They have seen this in newborns.
This is what I would really like to talk to you about today. People talk about how horrible it is to take care of their elderly and the challenges that they have. I’m not trying to down play the challenges. It can be challenging. They talk about it being tiring. Yes, it can be. It honestly reminds me of raising children. I am up numerous times a night to check on him and drain his bag. I don’t get a solid nights rest any more. When my grandfather decides at 4am to get up, that means I get up, too. He needs to be changed and sometimes goes through everything, so it means getting up and changing the linens on the bed, too. It means spilled milk or soup. It’s round the clock, 24/7 care.
But you know girls, we can look at the “work” side of taking care of our grandparents and we can look at the work side of taking care of our own children. And if you only see the spilled milk, the dirty diapers, the wet linens, the loss of sleep, the stubbornness, etc, you will surely find it to be overwhelming and not worth the effort it takes! But what I want you to see is how there is another side than just the “work” side with raising our children; there’s the huge blessing side, too!!! The same holds true for our elderly! The blessings weigh outdo the work involved in caring for them!!! When Yahweh says that it is more blessed to give, than to receive, He was really speaking the truth!!! Never hold back because of the “work” or the “negatives” that the world tries to get you to spend all your time thinking about! Look to what Yahweh’s word has said and see the glory, the honor, the privilege, and the blessings in each and every moment!!! See people as He sees them, and it will make all the difference in the world!
When I first felt myself getting frustrated at the mornings getting earlier and earlier and the nights not getting any earlier, I found myself praying. One morning I really felt Yahweh answer me with “Redeem the time. Spend that time redeeming the years of your relationship that the locus have eaten up. Instead of getting frustrated, see the blessing I am trying to give you. Spend that time in conversation and in my word…with your grandfather”. Since Papa (my grandfather) and I have been doing this, it has made all the difference in the world in my attitude towards it. Our relationship is being restored (to what I always wanted it to be like). We are having spirit-filled time together reading Yahweh’s word. We are just sitting on his bed in the wee hours in the morning, sharing a cup of coffee together, talking and sharing. Its been amazing and truly worth every minute of it!
Yes, there are two sides to caring for people and if you only focus your attention on the one, what you are losing or what it is costing you, you will surely be discouraged, discontent, disappointed, frustrated, and overwhelmed. But my precious girls, if you are willing to see past all that and really look for the blessings of each moment, I promise you, you will be blessed far more than you could have ever dreamed was possible!!!!!
And one more thing…in my opinion, there is NO other way of training you more for when you have your own children, than caring for the needs of your elderly loved ones!!! Use this time to allow Yahweh to purge you of the dross in your life, and mold your character into the likeness of His Son. Yes, in one word it would be called learning to be “selfless”, instead of “selfish”. How I praise Yahweh for this time He’s blessed me with!!!