Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Only Ones Left

As my brother in law drove away from the restaurant I had only one thought: We are the only ones left.

It was over a decade ago that my mother in law's memory began to slip. Her mother had the same thing, only later in life.

Slowly her life began to close in. She could no longer take care of grand kids. She dropped out of the church ladies' circle. She stopped buying birthday presents or Christmas gifts. She gave up her driver's license.

Her husband, my father in law, became her sole care giver. He was fiercely protective of her. He loves her. The problem is, she is not well taken care of.

Eventually she stopped changing her clothes. She no longer took care of her finger nails or toe nails. She forgot to shower.

My husband and I were the first to talk about a change. Many years ago we took them to model homes in our area. We painted the picture of moving out of the mountains and to the grand kids where they could attend ball games and plant a garden. They stubbornly refused.

My father in law dug his heals in, promising to make a change in the move back to his home state. His words were empty. He began lying to his kids and laughing about it to his friends as his wife's memory faded...

In her day she was a teacher and an artist. She was funny and generous. Every one loved her. Yet as she floated into her twilight years her dignity was disappearing faster than her memories.

If my husband were an only child things would have gone much differently, but he is not and it took time to get everyone on the same page. They were coming to our house for Christmas we were told, and as they made their way down the interstate we would get the phone calls:
  • "Mom is limping. Her foot is really hurting her. She can't remember what happened."
  • "Lois has a really bad foot. I think it is getting worse. She can barely walk."
By the time they arrived at our house, my husband and I had the plan in place. We would take her to the doctor with or without her husband's permission. He was the king of, "She'll be fine. We'll go to our own doctor in Grass Valley." His hostility was always on the brink of explosion, always something to be navigated around.

Her foot was infected because her clothes were dirty and she never showered. Her toe nails needed a doctor's care. And I looked at my heart broken hubby and said, "I would never allow my mother to live like this."

Weeks later my family and my husband's two brothers and sister came from across the country and Canada to end the situation. Resolute, my husband said to his father, "Mom is coming with me. You are welcome to come, too, but if you want to move to Oregon you must go find a place by yourself and then I will bring her to you."

He was so brave.

Grandpa came too and we found them a place at a wonderful Christian retirement home near us. My father in law screamed and jumped up and down. He pounded his fist and pointed his fingers at us.

He made my daughter cry.

And we have worked hard to make this their home, and increased medications for bad moods, and kept family members updated, but as my brother in law left the restaurant heading for a new life several states away, I realized we were the only ones even close.

A brother is now in Texas; another in Maine; and a sister is in Canada.

Every holiday is ours. Every call with an injury or reports of bad behavior come to us to manage. And I realize why the 5th commandment is the one with a promise:

"Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord is giving you." Exodus 20:12

It is not easy, nor is it simple, but it is worth it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Remaining Principled

The question I find myself pondering is this: "Can I ever develop consistent character if the ends justify the means?"

Two news items this week have me wresting.

First, the Democratic Convention takes any mention of God out of their platform. Then they put it back in.

I am a devout Christian who has spent a fair amount of time pondering the importance of  a Biblical world view. I absolutely believe God SHOULD BE acknowledged by any American political party.

HOWEVER, the party has procedures in place. If an amendment to the passed party platform is desired, that amendment must be introduced; a motion to accept it offered; that motion seconded; and a vote taken. The vote must receive 2/3 support in order to pass the amendment.

The verbal vote taken--three times--on the convention floor simply did not sound like a 2/3 majority supported the change. In fact, it didn't even sound close. The chairman, who according to the audio I listened to, seemed incredibly uncomfortable...he knew what he was supposed to do, he seemed to realize it could not be done if the rules were to be strictly followed, but it was done anyway.

I am not sure who won.

I absolutely want God acknowledged in all politics. But mostly I want 2/3 of the people to also want God acknowledged; and I want to know that the rules will be followed to protect us from the emotional highs and lows life throws at us.

Second, a bad guy was convicted of a crime.

I believe he was guilty. I believe he is also guilty of another crime he has yet to be charged with. Both crimes were the murders of his wives--wife #3, and wife #4. To say this guy is unlikeable is an understatement.

The problem I have is this: The vast difference between believing beyond a shadow of a doubt someone is guilty, and having the prosecution prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone is guilty is huge. They are NOT the same thing, and in a society of laws the burden is on the prosecution not our opinion.

They changed the rules to ensure the outcome. Never before has heresay been allowed in court with this much influence. It is a slippery slope, that may very well get overturned by a higher court in the future. This bad guy might walk after all.

Having faith means trusting that God will work things out, and that it is my role to follow His ways even when the short term outcome looks bleak. Not so easy for me.

I can easily be an "ends justify the means" kind of a gal. But watching it unfold in third party this week helps me to realize that the consistency of my character needs to be a value I strive for, even if I have to let something I would like to have go...for now.

God really will have it. HE really does have longer term vision that I do. Why don't I remember that more often?