Enduring Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

I came across this delightful entry in my grandmother’s journals. My grandparents were married for over 50 years and lived in a retirement home the latter part of their lives. The entry is not dated, but I’m guessing it was written on February 14, about 2000-2002.

A Time To Remember

Charlie is 96, a widower and seen a lot go by. However, he always has a kind word. It was late afternoon on Valentine’s Day and we were leaving for a walk. As we opened the door, the halls were quiet and we could hear someone in the lounge, playing the piano. We stopped to listen and we could see it was Charlie. He was playing “Tea for Two”, never missed a note. It was eerie but beautiful. Charlie went back to his room and, as he went inside, we imagined him saying,”That’s for you, babe.”

R.N.W. 1925-2003

Love can be as difficult as it is beautiful. I imagine Charlie knew that better than anyone, still loving someone who was no longer with him.

Chronic illness and disease expose a love that reaches far beyond the roses-and- chocolate-kind. Although I do appreciate my heart-shaped Whitman’s sampler. Yum!

As I mentioned before, My grandmother had macular degeneration and my grandfather had Parkinson’s disease. Even though my grandmother couldn’t see, it was important to her to try to look her best. I used to paint her nails on occasion. I remember my grandfather telling her how beautiful she looked when she “got her nails done.” I also remember seeing my grandmother rub his back and feet when the stiffness from Parkinson’s began to set in. She researched breathing techniques that helped him relax and spent time assisting him with exercise.

Recently, it’s been my own experience that love is looking more like being carried up the stairs because my legs are just not strong enough. But think King Kong not Gone with the Wind! Or being told I still look beautiful when I walk even though I think I have “funky chicken legs.” (my kids love that one!)

My friends, while it is lovely to have others stand by us through chronic illness, there is no greater companion than Jesus. He understands suffering like none of us ever will and chose it so that ours will someday end. He suffered physically on the cross for us, yes, but he was also “despised and rejected.(Isaiah 53:3) There were no kind words, no soothing touches, no comforts, no response from his own Father. (My God, My God why have you forsaken me? Matt.27:46) All this so we can have eternal life in Him. (John 3:16) This is this THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL!

In honor of my grandparents and Charlie, who understood a kind of enduring love that pushed through illness, disease, and even death, I’m adding a YouTube video of Doris Day singing Tea for Two, the song Charlie played to his sweetheart on Valentine’s Day many years ago.

If you’re following by email, you’ll need to go my website to listen. Enjoy! www.syrinxsoldier.com

Parent Guilt

“Why are you sick again, mommy? I hate you!” my 4 year old exclaimed recently because I was having difficulty getting up to make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Initially the words stung more than the pain in my back. But considering he is 4 and understanding that it is not me he hates but the illness that is changing his world a bit helped to put his words in perspective. Notice I wrote “his world” because for the most part kids truly think the world revolves around them!

Let’s talk parent guilt. If you have any chronic illness and you have children, you have most likely experienced a feeling of guilt because at some point you couldn’t make it to the dance recital, karate class, or soccer game. You couldn’t attend a field trip, throw the ball around, or cook a decent meal. You couldn’t take them to the park, beach or baseball game. You forgot to buy them shoes that actually fit, sign a permission slip or send in snacks for the school party.

Before I became ill, the needs of my boys were met almost instantaneously. I see now that perhaps it was a little too quickly. I am a very attentive mom and, before the pain and weakness, very active so I was able to hover and slave and well…spoil. It wasn’t always a coddling thing. Sometimes I gave them what they wanted quickly just to shut them up. Don’t judge. If you have kids, you’ve been there!

That day, my 4 year old said something that opened my eyes to a little monster who I created! My friends, through prayer and God’s grace, I have a new perspective on “parent guilt” concerning my illness. Our children do not need to grow up in some pseudo perfect existence where their needs are met in an instant and their parents bend over backwards to fill their social calendars.

Parents, my friends, we don’t need to feel so guilty if we can’t physically do something for our kids or with them! I have learned that it is actually good for them to experience a little disappointment in life because it’s REAL. Life is not Disney World and the sooner they learn that the better equipped they will be to handle bigger challenges they will surely face.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you just sit on the couch and say – yo kid you’re on your own!  But I think it’s important to discuss with them in a “kid-appropriate” way about your illness and explain why you may not be able to do something or attend an event. Another more practical suggestion is to come up with things you can do together such as movie night, reading books, computer games, or good old fashioned talking – imagine that! Also, ask a friend or family member to be your “stand-in”, someone who would be willing to go to the recital or game and cheer them on!

Psalm 103

Journey with me.