Giving Options

That sweet place of weakness

I sat behind a beautiful older woman at a concert. The concert hadn't begun, but there was music playing. Her hands moved uncontrollably clapping to the slow contemporary beat that framed the old song, "I Need Thee Every Hour". Her lips moved and her hands clapped, every part of her being telling God that she needed Him. Somehow in that neediness she was strengthened.

Never have we felt more weak and powerless than in the loss of both of my parents. If my prayers were ever neat and orderly, they no longer are. They sound more like "Oww!". Surely God is ok with the infant cries of my heart.

Mom was very healthy. Just a few days before she died I told myself that I would ask Dad's hospice nurse to take a look at her on Tuesday because something wasn't right. We never got to Tuesday, just a late Sunday night with her lying peacefully in her bed asleep for eternity. I couldn't take my eyes off of her for a while, she was so peaceful and the room just seemed to be filled with God's mercy. The hesed kind that means more than our English word can convey and only God can give.

Her last days were filled with contentment. According to her prayer notes she had thanked God for the taste of contentment. So in the hardest days of her life, caring for Daddy round the clock, exhausted, anticipating losing Dad, she was content. It showed on her face as she blew her 75 candles out the week before. She basked in the pleasure of kissing Daddy's frail cheek, playing Scrabble with grandchildren, and walking in the cool wet spring grass with whomever would walk with her.

Mom's passing sent us all into a tailspin, being so unexpected. The reality of the care Dad needed sobered us very quickly. So there we sat at 5 AM, "Dad, what pills do you need?" terrified that we had missed something very important, like a snack for a diabetic man with Parkinsons and kidney cancer. Our attention turned to Daddy and his needs. Daddy, on the other hand, rallied to the occasion and began eating again, strengthening himself, because he now had to take care of us. And he did! He ran all the funeral preparations from his lift chair, reminding us of so many details. When the funeral was over he talked for weeks with my sister about financial and insurance issues, helping her find all the papers she would need after his passing.

When all the paperwork was in order, Daddy started deteriorating again. His mind was clear until the week he died, but he was able to make sure we knew exactly what to do when he could no longer speak. He held off on pain meds nearly every day so that he could speak clearly with us, preferring to be in pain and clear headed. It was a courageous battle that I sometimes wondered why he was fighting, yet he fought until his body would no longer sustain his will.

So we gather at the house, mostly talking and laughing, remembering our parents and thanking God for the heritage we have. Sometimes I sing "I Need Thee Every Hour". That sweet place of weakness where God loves to show His glory . . . I must stay there.

Giving Options