Recently, we have had family members impacted with health issues. My mother-in-law is dealing with progressive dementia. Some days she’s her normal, dry-witted funny self. Some days she’s burdened with hearing voices that don’t exist. She believes they are real so for her, they are. For us, it is worrisome, but often humorous. We have to see it as being funny or we’d go nuts.
My aunt had a stroke several weeks ago. She had been dealing with other health problems since January. Once the MRI was performed, the doctors discovered this was her second stroke. She is slowly healing. I spent yesterday afternoon with her and my uncle. I was delighted and humbled to find him such a compassionate patient nurse. I was equally pleased to discover that she is slowly healing. Their son-in-law was there to help them with their plumbing. A neighbor couple stopped by to wish her well and offer phone numbers in the event that she needed anything. Other friends called offering to bring dinner. Her sister phoned to check on her. We took a brief ride into the close-by small town for a birthday party for the 7 year old son of their neighbor. The mother and grandmother came out from the party to hug my aunt and wish her well – offering a pizza and phone numbers in case she needed anything. We then rode by the home of good friends who offered the same as the above to my aunt and uncle.
In each case, the seen or the calling told my aunt they loved her and would be there for anything she needed. My aunt is a proud independent woman, not used to needing help from anyone. She has been the rock and the one who offers help. She assisted her own mother with her health problems. In the last two years, she was the nurse, hair and make-up stylist to her oldest daughter who had broken her back in a car accident. She arrived every morning at her daughter’s house to get her up, bathe her, and get her ready for the day. Food in tow, she was the epitome of the stalwart mother. Now, she must accept the gracious nursing care of that same daughter, who has quit her job to stay with her mother.
I had forgotten the tender loving care of country neighbors who are there, come hell or high water. I was reminded of just how easy it is to lose your ability to be in charge of yourself. I was equally humbled by those who so willingly gave of themselves.
Next to my aunt stood a basket filled with get well cards. My aunt would definitely prefer not to be the recipient of any of this. She would prefer to be the one giving the care, not receiving. That is true of many of us. Part of the graciousness of life is that we learn to accept what others offer and take it willingly, with love and appreciation.
I greatly enjoyed my hours with both of them, listening to my uncle’s stories about people I had known, and taking a picture of an ancestral home. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in their presence. I wish her godspeed on her journey to good health, and love to my nieces and uncle who are taking such tender care of her. It was a good day for me to be there. Family and friends are so important.