My mom lifted the fork to my dad’s mouth. His eyes were filled with love as she fed him. I felt frustrated. “He’ll never get better if she keeps babying him.” I was determined Pops would beat this thing. “All he has to do is put forth a little effort, have a good attitude, and embrace his faith.”
Only a few days before, I sat on my parents’ bed to talk with my dad. He was preparing to go to the hospital for some cancer treatments. Pops filled his right pocket with the stuff splayed out on his dresser. As a kid I watched him do this before he went to work. His wallet, some spare change, and his keys were the items he always included. I found comfort observing this ritual.
This day he grabbed his wallet, dropped it in, tossed in some change, and picked up his keys only to set them back down on the dresser. The pit in my stomach grew. My dad didn’t need his keys. Pops was dying. My mom knew it, my dad knew it. I refused to accept it.
My initial refusal to accept my dad’s terminal illness put a temporary barrier between my mom and me. She could have used my support. My frustrated countenance must have compounded the pain in her already breaking heart.
Once I was able to push my denial aside, I could step back and see what was in plain sight. The change in perspective gave me a bird’s eye view of my dad’s real life situation. With clear eyes I could now deal with the unwelcome unexpected events that rudely barged into our lives. With open ears I was able to listen to God’s gentle guidance. I was ready to walk along side both my mom and my dad in a way that each of them needed. My personal tunnel vision denial prevented flexibility of thought, the ability to respond to reality, and distracted me from seeking and receiving God’s direction. It is a special, holy honor to be with and care for our parents in these moments, as they have been with us all of our lives.
Healthy and loving inter-connectedness is halted when we stubbornly refuse to clearly see the situation and the people before us. Because life is not stagnant or always happy we need to adjust to our circumstances, rely on each other, and trust God. I’m learning with every new adjustment, either good or bad, God’s got it. Leaning on one another and trusting the Lord when hard things come calling is how life is mean to be lived. Family ties are strengthened by interdependence and faith is deepened by a God dependence.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.