In my college years, I was an emergency medical technician (EMT) and saw many people die. One memorable patient was an eighty-year-old man who had been a high school coach. When we arrived with a wailing siren and lights flashing, he met us at the door. He lay on the stretcher and said he’d been bowling earlier but had become ill. Once in the ambulance, he sat up and expressed his discomfort. I told him to lie down and assisted him by lifting his feet onto the gurney. Then I looked up, and he was dead.
Few people choose how they will die. Most of us hope it’s not in a nursing home being spoon fed and talking nonsense. Yet, it happens. Other than committing suicide or volunteering for the Foreign Legion, we succumb in the usual way.
My father was ninety at his passing. He was clear of mind, still driving, and caring for my mother, who had vascular dementia. Dad was lucky. He died elderly with a sound cognizance and good health for his age. His death was so sudden he didn’t press the button on the FOB around his neck to alert authorities.
We don’t know how my mom had a moment of clarity and called my brother, who lived a few blocks away. She claimed her husband was asleep on the couch, and she couldn’t wake him, but he’d died on the floor.
In an instant, the responsibility for Mother was mine. Several times before his death, my father stated, “I don’t want your mother warehoused.” I assured him I’d do what I could to prevent it. How wonderful he had long-term care insurance and a pension which allowed for professional help.
We’re doing our best to keep Mom in our home, but it’s a challenge. She has a professional caregiver for four hours per day, which gives me a short break. By receiving relief, even though brief, it makes me a better caregiver for her.
When she was able, we took Mother to an adult day-care facility a few times each week. Though recommended by her Neurologist and Psychologist, I hesitated at first. But with social interaction, she was happier and slept better. She got physical and mental stimulation.
God gave Moses instructions on Mt. Sanai — the ten commandments. One of those is in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother….” I’ve honored Dad by caring for his wife after his passing and honored Mom even though her mind slipped away years ago.
Providing care for our parent pleases God. It could mean taking care of them in our home or placing them in a facility where they will get professional care. Let’s look toward heaven for guidance as we decide. To summarize, a load is always easier to carry with help, and God is our helper.
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. NASB
© Copyright Ronald Milburn 2018