Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The line

We've had people try to talk us out of it, of course. Bringing Grampie home, I mean. They've asked a lot of questions, played "devil's advocate," looked at us--at me!--and shaken their heads. They can't imagine it. And I get that we're doing it backwards...if it's done at all anymore.

The other day when Beve and I met with a woman who works with care-givers, she told us we had to have a 'line in the sand,' a line at which we say, "if it comes to this, we won't do it any longer." Maybe it's when we have to change diapers, she told us. But we're bringing him home a long ways down the road from that line, if you know what I mean. Or maybe it's when he no longer recognizes us or can call us by name. But he's only called me by name about once in the last six months, so we can't see that line in our rear-view mirror either.  So what could possibly be our line now? When he can't talk? Some days he doesn't. Some days he barely lifts his head, let alone looks at us. Other days there are big smiles on his face when he sees us, though, and a clutch of his hand when we try to leave. He 'packs up' his laundry hamper with regularity--dumping the puny number of belongings he has left among the dirty clothes, and is ready to march out the door with us when we go. It's hard to say good-bye on those days.

And maybe those days are enough of an answer to any one. They're basic as rock. Amid all the confusion that he lives with every second of his waking life, there is still one true person, his youngest son. Second to that is me. But the Beve is who he looks for, who he knows, "that's my son," he tells everyone, with an unmistakable pride that is cell-deep.

You know what I hope the line is...if I'm really honest?
Grampie's last breaths.
To live out one's days in community, to breathe the last air on earth among those who love you most--isn't this the best that earth has to offer? Isn't this what we all might wish if we could? I know that the world is more complex than it once was, but to get to do this, to share the final days of a person's life is something humans were comfortable with. More than comfortable, they just did it. And I want to see it that way. I want to see it as a privilege, an honor, a gift accorded to us by God because it's community at its finest.

So we prepare and pray and humbly ask for strength for this coming season.
However long that season is, may He be in it, may He be on this road we are on.
And may we be transformed by the riches He brings through Grampie's presence in our home.


Pamela M. Steiner said...

Praying for you as you embark on this new journey. There will be difficult days ahead, but there will also be much joy when you look back and say, "I'm so glad we gave him that time to be surrounded by those who love him most"...you won't regret that. Yes, you will be tired, and there will be times you may ask yourself why, but again, all in all, it will be worth it, for however long you are able to keep him with you. Make everyday count.

Kristina said...

I think it's good if people can do this and care for their loved ones this way.