One thing I did after I passed some brave little yellow flowers blooming by the back gate to our apartment community as I came home from my Mom's was grab my camera and go take their picture. I love that God makes so many early flowers yellow - it's such a happy reminder that winter really won't last forever!
This weekend has been such a treat with blue skies and sunny days. Both are still a little weak, but each day brings them both closer to the equinox assistance they need.
So.....I have been on quite a journey in the last several weeks and if I had been given a choice in the matter, I would have said, "No!" But I was not and as with all difficulties in life, there have been things to learn in spite of my rantings at the unfairness of it all. As I was reflecting this morning on where I have landed for now, I might be able to somewhat concisely explain it. I guess we're about to find out.
In a healthy world, I think life would look something like this: First, you would have a relationship with someone. That could be anything from a sibling to a parent to a love interest. Once a relationship is established, there is an appropriate emotional response to the other person ranging from friendship to respect to romantic love. Once that connection is established, responsible actions follow. Those could range from care and protection offered by a parent to obedience in a child to the selfless love demonstrated by a spouse. Sadly, we don't live in a healthy world and most of our families don't experience this kind of order. As I've had to deal with my Mom's illness and subsequent care, I've realized that I'm working backwards in these three R's of life.
Because of my parents' alcoholism, I became the textbook oldest child caretaker in my family and never really had much of an emotional childhood. I learned to hide by not rocking the boat and trying to keep the waters calm at home. The motivational drive of my life was that there was no one to take care of me so I had to do it myself...and I did. I knew my parents loved me and they made sacrifices to take care of us, but the emotional connection wasn't there very often.
After becoming a Christian as a young adult, God slowly began to heal some of the broken places inside of me and I have truly been able to forgive my parents for some of the ways we were not loved well. But that doesn't automatically create a loving, caring, family dynamic and since the drinking never stopped, decades ticked by with not much changing.
Now all of a sudden, my mother is recovering from colon cancer surgery and life as she knew it is over for now. She has a colostomy bag (which we have affectionately named Penelope Pouch just because we could). There were existing financial difficulties, we had to move her to a smaller apartment, insurance bills are starting to come in, and she is dependent on her family for most everything. As her only child not working and the one that lives the closest, I have become the primary person responsible for all of these things....and there it is - the first R.
Because she is my Mom and because I am available, I have chosen to be a caring human being and assume a lot of the responsibility for her needs. It wasn't because I wanted to, but there was nobody else that could. Most of you haven't been around me lately, but if you had been you would have heard a lot of fit-pitching, whining, anger, and just general selfishness over this recent development in my life. I was mad because my life was suddenly and unexpectedly interrupted and it hasn't been pretty. Because of the last four years of life and the faithfulness of God already experienced, in the depths of my soul I knew He was up to something, so I did occasionally ask Him what that might be. Enter the second R - emotional response.
As I've watched my Mom deal with the fact that her existing life ended, I have grown to respect her as a person. She's had lifelong habits forcefully taken from her and I haven't heard one word of complaint. She has accepted the circumstances she's been dealt with a lot more grace than I have and she's the one that has to deal with major health adjustments. She's at the mercy of others for just about everything and she's appreciative and thankful. Respect is growing into admiration for her courage and I can feel the desert in my heart beginning to blossom.
I don't know yet what the final R will look like. Will we end up with a mother/daughter relationship like I share with Tiffany? Can a lifetime of neglect be erased in what might only be months or a few years? I don't have an answer to those questions, but I do know that the God who said He'll restore the years the locusts have eaten is capable of anything. I know there are hard times ahead and these amazing years I'm supposed to be enjoying ministering to others and influencing my grandchildren don't look like that for me right now. Sometimes that's hard for me as I watch my friends experience those things, but this is where God has me for now. As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, "this is where we are". Or put another way, "It is what it is".
Life is easy for some and heartbreakingly difficult for others. And then there are lots like me that fall somewhere in the middle. But someday things are going to made right, spring really is coming, and in spite of the headlines, God is still in control...and He is good.
"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
~C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"