Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anointed to Serve

I've had durable power of attorney for my mother's finances and health for the past nine years and have cared for her in my home for seven years and counting. The support I've received from friends and members of the community in which we live has been overwhelmingly positive, although from time to time someone will shake their head and say, "I could never do what you are doing."  My feelings about this statement are somewhat mixed. What I've done hasn't been much more difficult than the ministrations most people end up providing to elderly parents.

It is a sad fact of life that people get old and need help. Whether an adult child places an elderly parent into an assisted living complex, a nursing home, or makes the choice to provide care at home; there are responsibilities to bear. The most difficult part of my caregiving experience thus far has been the emotional transition into the caregiver's role, and this is an experience that is far from unique. Watching a loved one fade from view because of dementia is a grief many have to bear, and regardless of the level of caregiving responsibilities undertaken, that emotional transition must take place. It does seem strange to some people, however, that I've chosen to care for Mom at home.

Once in awhile someone will say something that is upsetting, as happened recently when a person said, "I think Anna Ruth is really enjoying Linda waiting on her hand and foot."  This comment was not stated to my face, but was repeated to me by another person who evidently did not realize how hurtful such a statement would be.

This kind of attitude embodies not only a harsh criticism of my mother, but diminishes me to the role of a victim of her supposed exploitation of me.  The accusation is that Mom is lazy and demanding and that I have played the role of being a willing victim of her vices by babying her.

That is not the case. 

When Mom came to live with us she was roughly at the same level of functioning she is now (medication afforded her a few years at a higher level and she has only now regressed to that former level). The poor woman couldn't then and can't now remember what she did 30 seconds ago! Just this morning she knocked on the dividing door between her apartment and our part of the house, saying, "My senior brain caused me to forget who lives in the other part. I was just curious! Sorry I bothered you."  She has in no way exaggerated her difficulties. She has to have support and I have chosen to be her primary caregiver. 

Furthermore, Mom pays me a salary care for her, a salary that has been a great blessing, especially since  the reading program I'd taught for 11 years was discontinued last year due to budget cuts. Thanks to Mom's support I was able to take early retirement and was saved from having to go back into the regular classroom full time, which I do not have the stamina to do.  The Lord has blessed both my mother and me through this current arrangement.

The opinions of other people need not hurt me or cause me undue concern so long as I maintain obedience to God as to His purpose for my life. I think what upsets me the most is that the attitude expressed by that person makes it seem that my gift of time and love to my mother was unnecessary.

I daily lay down my life in a way that is still is a struggle for me as I strive to graciously love and serve Mom as Christ has loved and sacrificed for me.  I am convinced and convicted that this is what He wants me to do for His precious Anna Ruth; I am led to certainty by God's compelling hand upon me. I know I am precious to Him as well and He has not, will not forget me.  I have obeyed the Lord.  I know He will not abandon me or leave my needs unmet.  It is a precious privilege to take care of Mom. 

I have not been manipulated into being used; I have been anointed to serve.  

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