Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I am always in awe of the way God knows our desires and how He arranges His best for us in a way that is so far above anything we could have done on our own! Early in the spring, as I anticipated summer vacation, I asked God to help me to find His will for my summer. Although my income is pretty minor, it does make a difference in our monthly budget, and through the years, we have learned to save a cushion for those months. Beyond that, I really enjoy various types of work. I like diversity in routines, and as a person I need time away from home. Some people don't understand that, and that's fine. As long as God, hubby, the kids, and I are ok with it, that's what counts, right? Anyway, the things that were coming to my mind as possibilities were definitely not what God had planned.
In mid-May, a lady at church asked if I would be interested in helping with a home care case for an elderly man who was transitioning from a rehab center. I am always interested in new cases, and this was one that came with perfect timing...literally right at the end of the school year. If you have ever done home care, you understand that you have no idea what kind of a situation you may encounter. For better, or for worse. So, I was a little nervous as I drove the 22 miles from my home to the country home of the patient.
Within less than a minute of arrival, I was completely at ease. I had just entered the home of one of the sweetest elderly couples on the planet! Married for over 70 years, my patient and his wife were hardworking farmers who had been successful because of their diligence and frugality. At 92 and 94 years of age, they were still very much in love, and so full of kindness to the caregivers. We had so much in common with our love for God, family, and friends.
During the month of June, the patient progressed, and he was able to enjoy the next few weeks, but in early August he began to develop some issues. He declined steadily during August, and we wondered when his final day on earth would come. There were about 10 of us working part time, providing him with around the clock care, and each had qualms about being on shift at the time of his death. Hospice was involved all summer, since he was terminal and wished to die at home, and they were a blessing with various aspects of his personal care.
I was on schedule to work the night of August 11th. It was a Wednesday night, and I had a feeling I should skip Prayer Meeting to rest. I didn't know what the night would hold. As I travelled through the countryside toward the patient's home, I specifically remember saying to God, "Please don't let him die on me tonight." There were a couple of reasons why I didn't care to be the one. #1, being a PK, I have been at the bedside of many dying saints, but never with a dead body. Some had struggled greatly during the last few minutes, and I just didn't feel like dealing with the emotion of it. #2, home care is different that working in a facility. In a nursing home, you are surrounded by people 24/7, in the home - if there happens to be anyone else around - they would likely be sleeping during 3rd. shift.
Just as quickly as I breathed that little prayer to God, it was as if He immediately responded, "But what if I want you to be the one?" I felt a sense of calm, and told Him to use me wherever He could.
About 2 hours later, that's exactly what He did. As I sat at the feet of my patient, he drew his last breath. During the next few hours, I was able to help prepare him for the funeral home, hold his grieving widow while she cried, pray with his children and in-law children in the absence of their pastor, help the funeral director with information and pictures, and just be there. They asked me to stay the rest of the shift, and we shuffled around until about 4 a.m. making funeral arrangements, moving medical equipment, etc. After that, we rested for awhile in the living room. Just about daybreak, I opened my eyes just enough to see my patient's widow sitting in her recliner, sobbing in grief. I tried to imagine her pain...his death was not a surprise, but 70 years is a long time...a lot of memories...
So my summer was full of breathtaking sunsets, fresh country air, miles of cornfields, rainbows, sunrises that I didn't know existed (lol), watching the growth of baby calves, and making new friends. Although I know I will never measure up to Lucille, a farmer's wife who at 92 still keeps up a big house, cooks killer meals, and looks fantastic, I hope that I'm able to leave a legacy like the people who I was privileged to know this summer! Here we are, quite matchy in an unplanned sort of way...
(The table behind us is one of the many beautiful pieces my patient made, even during the years in which he was legally blind.)