In the flurry of Christmas at my parents’ house yesterday Mom asked who someone was. And in return someone asked Mom who she was. She answered loudly, and with some gumption, “I’m me. I’m very much me!” The problem for her family is that she is not talking or acting like the dear woman we knew. One of my brothers even said, “I didn’t know Mom was like this.”
And another brother answered, “That’s because you’re never over here. And this is why I have to leave … [after he’s been over awhile].
Mom is often in a hard place these days. She’s often yelling and hollering so loud it hurts your ears if you’re close to her. I had to change Mom during the party yesterday, and grandchildren down in the basement could hear her. She swears sometimes, to everyone’s shock, because she never, ever did that before.
Yes, we had some startled faces on Christmas Day. A sister-in-law came up to me after I changed Mom and said, “I think you need a hug.” It was sweet of her, but I told her honestly that I was pretty used to Mom’s hollering. It was only for a few minutes yesterday—she was pretty calm for most of the party. But I did admit that it was tough on Christmas Eve when Mom hollered, “I hate you and I’m going to kill you!”
I told Dad she yelled that at me and he said, “Oh, she says that every day now. It’s just her way of objecting.” I know that’s true. I know yelling things like that is not the heart of my sweet mama. So why is it still hard to hear sometimes?
And then I think how I have a home to go to, away from the stress of it all. But Dad doesn’t. He’s there 24/7. And he’s 81 and blind. And I’m ashamed of myself for the times I feel reluctant to help him or think that he’s asking too much.
And my heart goes out to all the care-givers who don’t have another home to go to. And the ones who don’t have enough help. And the ones who pick up on tones of reluctance in the voices of those they are asking for help.
And I feel convicted to ask Dad, “What can I do?” before he has to ask for help. And I think Jesus is calling me to step up and do more. Because full-time care-givers are heroes. But they need support. They need time away, if even for an hour or two. They need meals delivered and love showered on them. They need to be covered in prayer and held up with encouragement. They need driveways shoveled and lawns mowed and houses cleaned.
Some of us have more flexible schedules and can do more than others. But how different would the world look if everyone did something regularly for even one care-giver they know? And to those who are truly alone, or abandoned in your life of serving and mercy, know that you are walking on holy ground when you are caring for the helpless. God is with you.
And as you feed and clothe and minister to your beloved stranger you are feeding and clothing and ministering to Jesus. And He will not forget you. And someday He will look at you with love in His eyes and say, “As you were taking care of your loved one, you were caring for Me. It was very much Me.”