I am still learning the bittersweet. This week had a lot of bitter in it. The week also brought sweet confirmations from God. So let’s talk about the sweet.
When I walk into my dad’s domain I do not know what to expect. Half the time things go well. The other half are horrible. My dad tends to let the accusations fly. It doesn’t matter who he hurts.
How can I defend myself with a sharp retort or an explanation? It has never worked before. Now he’s an angry, bitter octogenarian with delusions. After a particularly bad visit a couple of weeks ago, I left with my husband. He held my hand as we walked to the front door. As he signed us out, deep in my soul I asked God if I was doing the right thing.
During this past week, I found out…yes I am doing the right stuff. God’s been confirming my prayer. I don’t know about you but, for me confirmations come in bunches. I get them come from readings, family, friends, etc. All reaffirming that this message is from God. I am on the right path! I am following the true God! I am honoring my mother and my father as God commanded.
So much happened that by Wednesday night I was a mess of emotion. Grateful for the support of family, friends and attorneys. But, I was so angry at the reckless actions of a relative and my dad. I felt broken and betrayed. The chronic pain intensified. It was my lowest point in the bitter of bittersweet. I kept telling myself, and anyone who would listen, I just want what is best for my dad!
One of my sisters-in-law called. I dumped the information on her. She said the most amazing thing*. “You just made me grateful for my siblings.” I was stunned for a few seconds. Then, realized she confirmed that God has surrounded me with prayerful supporters (including her).
Later Wednesday afternoon a friend told me to write out my anger as fast as I could and get the poison out of my spirit. Then, I got a supportive text from my mom telling me to be my usual advocate for getting problems solved (I never thought of myself that way). The anger ice in my heart began to melt. She texted “Don’t be angry when you are angry you don’t think straight.” My mom and friend both confirmed the steps God wanted me to take to calm the storm inside.
That evening I hand wrote pages of anger in big angry strokes. The anger melted into the words on the pages. Now it is just words. It does not form an icy wall of anger and pain around my heart. Tonight I will burn those words.
You know what happened? My stomach settled down, the headache lessened, and I was able to sleep.
On Thursday, I had a long chat with my moms. As I was leaving my “adopted” mom said, “Before you leave we need to forgive the relative and your father.” We formed a circle and each of us forgave them before God.
When I got home, I opened my afternoon devotional Tea Time with God. On page 120, I read Seventy Times Seven…Forgive, and you will be forgiven Luke 6:37 (NKJV).
CONFIRMATION! Popped into my head, just like that, in big bold letters.
Friday was quiet on the dad front. I was thanking God for providing support and confirmations. The friend I mentioned in This Daughter’s Walk who prayed the Wedding Feast of Cana for me, told me I was protecting him (dad) as a mother protects her family. She stated I was solving the problems that could have brought about his death. I was startled she used the similar terminology that my mom used, ‘solving problems.’ I thanked God for a more confirmation. It is definitely sweet to find God’s support of the actions I take in the middle of the bitter.
When I woke on Saturday morning I had Sirach 3:1-15 (NAB) “Duties toward Parents” on my mind. Here’s what jumped out at me:
- Verse 1: “…pay heed to a father’s right;” I’ve allowed dad his decisions for the last three years until the decisions were forced on me to make.
- Verses 3 – 4: “He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. This promise struck me as amazing.
- Verse 5: “He who honors his father is gladdened by children.” I am gladdened by my children. A sign of the promise herewith.
- Verse 7: “He who fears the Lord honors his father, and serves his parents as rulers. This one gave my free spirit some pause but, I am in a servant role as his caretaker.
- Verse 10: “Glory not in your father’s shame, for his shame is no glory to you!” I can’t imagine. I don’t want to talk about the bad stuff. I certainly do not want to revel in it. The exclamation point is what caught my attention. This is a warning.
- Verses 12 – 15 took my breath away. It is what I am trying so hard to do. The devil, literally the devil himself, lives in the details of the aging process. These verses are the verses that woke me. They stand alone in my heart for they are the guidance I need right now today:
“12 My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives.
13 Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength.
14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering – it will take lasting root.
15 In time of tribulation it will be recalled to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.
*My husband has several siblings. When their dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s they got together and decided what role each one would play, executors, health advocates, properties, morale, etc. They worked as a team for their dad. I would say most of us don’t have that luxury.
Here’s my two cents: If like my relative, you are thinking of stepping into the middle of a care planning process behind the back of the next of kin/caretaker. Stop and think twice. Be honest and up front with the caretaker about what the elder needs then work to fix the situation together.
Stepping in behind my back may cost my dad thousands of dollars. At best the action sows hard feelings and distrust. At most these actions may actually endanger the elder. That is not what any of us want.
Note: I am not talking about elder abuse cases here. If there is elder abuse it needs to be reported. In the case of suspicion, personally I would get some facts to back my suspicion. It never hurts to talk to the caregiver in question first. It may be uncomfortable. But, I may save myself a lot of angst.
In today’s society we don’t talk to people first. We file complaints and accusations without at least trying to connect. I’ve done it too. It’s so easy. More often than not it has created hard feelings in my life. I have to think the professional investigators must be so tired of our petty squabbles.
In my case I will not trust this relative again. It’s sad but true. I cannot trust his motives towards my elder, my dad.