August 9, 2013

Then Someone Comes to Get Her


She wakes up before the sun - mostly because she goes to bed so early.  Parkinson's makes the getting ready for breakfast long and cumbersome.  She can't maneuver the way she once did and takes breaks between the brushing of the teeth and the combing of the hair.  It's all just too much to do in one fell swoop.  Once she's gotten herself together, she sits and rests and waits and then presses the assist button hanging on a plastic chain around her neck.  She waits some more - then someone comes to get her.

A little bent over and a little cocked to one side, head bobbing, hands gripping the handle bars on her walker, she and her aide take the long walk to the dining room.  She sits at a table alone until her counterparts, other women without their husbands but with an aide, come in alongside.  They eat.  They talk but can't hear each other.  She finishes her oatmeal and then presses her assist button again.  She smiles above the pain and waits - then someone comes to get her.

She's been alone in her apartment for 5 hours now, waiting for 12:30 p.m.  That's when she goes to visit her husband of 61 years.  He lives just around the corner and down the hall in memory care.  She doesn't take naps or sleep.  She sometimes talks to her daughter on the phone, but she mostly waits until it's time for her visit, and when it is, she presses her assist button again.  She waits - then someone comes to get her.

The visits, they're hard on her, delightful for him.  When she's delivered to his side, he comes alive.  "Oh, I thought you'd never come!" he says.  They sit in the parlor and watch TV or snooze until activity time, where she helps him play bingo, then paint a birdhouse. His unintelligible words no longer bring her comfort as they sit and wait for the paint to dry.  It's the loneliest of places for her to be, but you won’t find her anywhere else each afternoon - until she grows weary, presses her assist button again - then someone comes to get her.

The evenings are the hardest.  Alone with no plan of what to do, she slips into bed at 6:30 when most of us are eating dinner. Daughter visits are the only welcome interruption. Twelve hours will pass, and the routine will begin again.  Body undependable, lover gone, hope hanging on the promises of God - she waits until He comes to get her.

(I have more thoughts to share below, but this is the end of my time for Five Minute Friday. I'm writing this story today  for Five Minute Friday.  The word prompt today was LONELY. I must confess, I stretched my minutes to eight!)

Do you have a story about loneliness? 


I've experienced loneliness in my own life, but I've witnessed the most heartbreaking loneliness amongst the elderly.  Their suffering rips at my heart.  Being alone yet dependent on others multiplied by chronic illness can result in suffocating loneliness, but Jesus willingly enters into these moments.  His provision comes in a multitude of forms.  He ministers through His Word, through daughters, and chaplains and neighborly strangers.  He comes in on  the feet of anyone who willingly goes to the lonely places of others.  Sometimes, being the answer to the loneliness of another can provide the answer to our own loneliness.

Psalm 102:7 says, "I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof."  Have you ever witnessed or experienced that kind of loneliness before?  Are you experiencing it now.  Can I listen to your story?  Can I pray for you?  

30 comments:

  1. This was wonderfully written and so touching! Thank you for sharing this. The waiting until He comes to get us, that's just lovely.
    I'm here from Five Minute Friday.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments! Yes, we wait for Him to come get us, sometimes we don't know what else to do, sometimes we just long for the beauty and peace of heaven. He's there, and we want to be there with Him, but He's given us this life to enjoy and take hold of for awhile.

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  2. My heart was so moved as I read your words. I was a chaplain for ten years in places like 'her' home. I know the loneliness and the long hours that pass so slowly for our dear ones. I miss my ministry there but it was time to draw it to a close so I could be there for my own dear, little mother who still lives in her home. It didn't seem right to minister to the needs of other folks' elderly parents and leave mine struggling to deal with life as it moves along. Your way with words always touches deep into my heart. Thank you for seeing the 'real' and for painting word pictures that we can understand.
    ~Adrienne~

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    1. Adrienne, I am so thankful for the chaplains who come to visit Mom. Sometimes, besides me, they are the only visitors that come! I too felt the same way about taking care of my parents. I've wanted to be a Hospice volunteer for a long time, but it wouldn't make much sense to take time away from my parents to give to someone else. There will be time for that. I cherish what little time I have left with my parents!

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  3. You touched my heart with your words of truth....The old seem to have been left behind in our society and what a shame for many reasons...Jesus calls us to take care of all the needs of others not just physical....

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    1. Hi Nancy! My eyes have really been opened to the needs of the elderly. The is great ministry opportunity there. The aging population is only getting larger and it seems not enough volunteers to truly meet the needs they have. They need companions and advocates.

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  4. What a beautiful reminder, not only that God is with us, but to be there for others.

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    1. Yes! We are definitely part of the provision!

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  5. Lovely and such a true picture of advanced age so many times. definitely a time that we will need to really rely on the Lord being with us

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    1. Yes, I've heard some say that this time of their lives has been the hardest challenge they have ever gone through. Things don't seem to get easier as we age, they only get harder. All the more reason to trust in the Lord!

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  6. This is beautiful my friend. Truly touched by your words.

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  7. So, so sweet and touching Stephani. Even though my Dad has made great progress and is feeling better than he has since his illness, he still gets so lonely and it breaks my heart. I guess if we live long enough we'll experience this same loneliness one day. Blessings to you!

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    1. I think many elderly people get lonely, probably most, but they handle it differently. My mom doesn't do a good job of reaching out to others or being proactive about the activities of her day, but then others are on the go all the time. I think attitude can make it better or worse. Glad your Dad has made progress and is feeling better.

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  8. Hi Stephani
    Yes, we are more than often our Pappa God's heart of love to a lonely person!
    Luv XX
    Mia

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    1. Mia, I'm so glad you chose to use the name Pappa God. It brought memories of my childhood and all the stories of New Guinea where I was born. My Dad would speak in Pidgin English on occasion. The term for Father God in Pidgin English is Papa Got. I love that!

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  9. You've made me think of my own parents in their later years and many others who, as you said, must suffer terribly from loneliness. I remember being frustrated at times because I knew Mama was lonely, but balancing my caring for her with the rest of my life was hard.

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    1. Yes Elizabeth, it is hard! I've surrendered more and more of my life to their care because that is the season of life in which God has placed me. They won't be here forever, and I cherish these moments. In visiting Dad this week, I have found that he is deteriorating some more and slipping away farther and farther. I know if he lives long enough with Alzheimer's there is a good chance he will forget me too.

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  10. This is a moving story & one that is so true. My in-laws, both have Alzheimer's. Although being taken care of at home by family & an aide, they no longr remember anyone or anything but each other. It is so hard to age & yet our hope is truly found that He will come for us. Thank you so much for sharing this. I visited from Sunday Stillness.
    Blessings,
    JOanne

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    1. Joanne, I'm so sorry about your in-laws, but what a blessing that they still have each other. I'm sure they are a comfort to each other at times. I do wish I could take care of my parents full-time, but we are just not in a position to do that right now. Maybe in time. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Simply beautiful! Your words made me even more grateful for where God has placed my son...he spends his day at a senior center and while it's his job to serve them a meal he does so much more than that. Thank you for sharing this story.
    Blessings, Beth

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    1. Oh Beth! You're son has such a significant position! It sounds like he realizes that. He has a great opportunity to minister to these lonely ones. He can be their waiter yes, but he can be kind to them, he can be interested in them, he can speak words of encouragement, he can make them laugh and be their friend. Yes, he is in a very important position. When God places us in a position to usher peace, encouragement, and love into a lonely or fearful, or broken life then we have been placed in the highest of positions. I have finally grasped what it means that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. I also realize that being a servant to all is humbling and yet a huge responsibility. It's so very important. God demonstrates his trust in us when he places us before people in such need. We are then his hands and his feet.

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    2. Thank you for this, Stephani. After reading it makes me wish you could meet my son. He has such an amazing heart. Next week he will actually join the residents of the center on an overnight camping trip. He was one of the few selected to go with them and I know this is because he takes an interest in them. Many times he goes there during his off hours to play games with them, play his guitar for them or simply to visit. I know he is a blessing to all of them. I will be honest, my son has not accepted Christ in to his life but I myself have only been a Christian for about three years now. My son though...I know Jesus resides in him and he just doesn't realize it yet. In time he will. I can't help but to think of how much more God will do through him once he does believe. Much love to you. I'm so grateful for our online friendship! (((hugs)))

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  12. This is so beautifully written! As I read it, I thought of my grandma, who died a few years ago. She lived in a nursing home for ten years or so and she had Parkinson's. It was an awful existence for her...luckily, my grandpa lived nearby along and so did most of their children.

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    1. I'm learning more and more about all the "lonely" stories out there. It breaks no one's heart more than it breaks God. But even more so, when we won't trust him or when we don't become the provision for loneliness in the lives of others. So glad your grandma had family near by! I can't imagine my mother having to be in a nursing home for 10 years! Well, I'll not think about that - a day at a time!

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  13. this is beautiful! Reminds me of the days my Popper spent sitting by my Nana's bedside. And I thought, THIS. THIS is love. After 60 something years, holding hands and just sharing time together. Through everything. Hard for one, and a delight for the other, and for all of us, an amazing example. May we all love with that much heart.

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    1. Hi Jen! t is a blessing my folks still have each other after all of these years! It is true love - a commitment and covenant kept no matter the cost. Marriage is an image of Christ's relationship to the church and these marriages are a great example of God's faithfulness to us. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Oh Stephani you write so beautifully about your folks. Hugs my friend!

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