I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.Isaiah 46:4
Friday afternoon – after a full six months of research, prayer, visits, disappointments, prayer, interviews, tours, near-misses, and still more prayer – mum and I took my dad to an assisted living home where he can receive the quality of round-the-clock care he needs at this stage of his life.
I’d be fooling myself if I said I wasn’t torn right now, second-guessing, “what-if”ing and more. It was so hard to drive away, and to take mum back to their house without dad. No, I am not beating myself up, but I’m not patting myself on the back either. This is hard, this is visceral, this is the “business end” of love.
Dad’s new place is a beautiful house, shared with just five other residents, in a nice neighborhood five and a half miles from our home. It is owned and managed by someone who loves their work, who feels a real calling and sense of mission to provide long term care to the elderly, and who hires onsite caregivers who own a similar level of commitment.
What is good about this situation is also exactly what adds up to heartache and distress. I no longer need to worry, 24-hours a day, that dad will need my help at any moment for his most basic care needs; yet it is that same 24/7 application of care, and love, and presence, that my mother will miss so very much.
It is good, for example, that I will not be called to go next door at 2:00 in the morning – but at the same time it breaks my mum’s heart that she will not hear him in the night when he calls her name.
I understand that this is just another leg of a very long and difficult journey; but it is a key milestone along the way, and the emotional impact for a couple who will have been married seventy years (this May) cannot be underestimated.
I feel confident about his new home:
While writing this I received an encouraging text from the facility owner, who followed up by sharing a message she received from a caregiver who just met dad for the first time:
“Dad had an awesome night and a great morning. He is so very lovely.”
“Omg he is sooooo sweet I love him and he is funny and so kind and he is relaxing in the recliner in the living room…….”
It is important to understand this: It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village for any one of us, at any age, to thrive. It is still true when you are almost 94 – like dad; or 66 – like me.
Peace and love and grace and blessings – DEREK