Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
One way to write about my parents (they will be 90 and 93 this year), and how they are “getting along” as people might say in the UK, is to offer some insight into day-to-day life here on our end of the quiet cul-de-sac where we live.
It’s a small street, just eight houses with lots of open space between them. Developers today would have found room for at least an additional five homes, and they would all have been much larger, probably featuring double garages too.
My parents’ home sits directly next door, with a gravel path through the trees ensuring direct and easy access. I can be there in thirty seconds if necessary, and it takes Max Retriever maybe three!
The balance, right now, is to make mum and dad’s lives as easy as possible, while simultaneously affording them every ounce of the independence they want to hold on to. It’s a tightrope walk, and I often fall off, but when I think about the situation many elderly people find themselves in, I absolutely know we are doing things right.
The key is presence. I am there five or six times each day, often more, and I provide care for my dad I would not – could not – have possibly imagined just a year and a half ago. Yes, we could arrange for help more often when it comes to the difficult tasks, but my mum in particular does not want people in the house beyond what is absolutely necessary and I am trying my best to respect that.
So I do what I can, and they hang on to a little more of their independence, and somehow we make it all work.
I can honestly say, though, that Max Retriever makes everything a lot better. My mother has fallen completely in love with our gentle giant, and he could not be better company for them.
Max is, as you can tell, actually much larger than my mother. He would easily pull me across the street and through the woods to chase after a cat, but he is completely gentle and compliant around my parents.
The bottom line:
This is, overall, a good situation. I am tired, and sometimes I really do feel a little overwhelmed with the responsibility for their care, but – and this is what counts – they are both content and they are not anxious either about the present or the future.
The apostle Paul may have commanded us, “Do not be anxious about anything…” But the scriptures also tell us to, “Carry each other’s burdens. And in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). I really like the way this is amplified in the CJB: “Bear one another’s burdens — in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds.”
The Passion Translation phrases the idea this way: “Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles.”
By following Jesus in this we can help our brothers and sisters – and our parents – to also follow Jesus: “Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious about your life…” (Matthew 6:25)
Because love really does empower us to fulfill the law of Christ. – DEREK