I live in the same city as my parents. Today, they still live independently. My mother and father have been married for sixty-two years and have known one another since elementary school. I go over often to spend time with them as often as possible because I know having them in my life is a blessing. Over the past few years, I’ve watched as my father’s memory has slowly declined, and in the past year, the decline seems to have moved to a new level. As I drive to their home many days, I wonder who will open the door today. Will it be my father of the past? The one who remembers details of his own past, and mine too? Or will it be the newer version of my father? The man who remembers minute details of his past but can’t remember what was said or talked about in the last few moments?
Regardless of who opens the door, I am transported back in time when his blue eyes meet my blue eyes. I am his little girl, and he is my sweet daddy. His deep love for his family, especially my mother, has not changed. In fact, he still sees her like she’s in high school. His hugs are warm and loving, and his smile in my direction warms my heart. His life is rich and full because his lifetime love is by his side, walking the journey with him.
My heart aches as I see the pain in my mother’s eyes. She knows what lies ahead. And yet, her deep love and respect for him motivate her to press on. “I need to stay healthy for him,” she says sadly.
While I visit, I see the signs—a blank stare or a long pause before a word is found. I know the time is coming. It may not be long before his memory fades further and he doesn’t recognize me or his personality changes, but he will always be God’s gift to our family. A loving father who provided a stable, Christian home, making God the priority so that future generations would become Christians. So, I will continue to spend time, knowing that it is my turn to do the listening, the comforting, and being a compassionate supporter to both parents who have loved and cared for me during my lifetime.
Written by a Christian woman who wants to share her story yet wants to shield her parents from any hurt this article might bring.
Tess is a veteran teacher, writer, and speaker. She has a passion for building strong relationships and helping people find their God-given purpose. (No photo included.)
I pray you are enjoying this Caregiving Straight Talk Series. There are more stories to come, and many of you may relate to them or know someone who does. Feel free to comment below and/or share on social media. Caregivers need to know they are not forgotten.
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Tracy Crump knows from experience the burdens caregivers shoulder after caring for both her parents and her 100-year-old mother-in-law. A former ICU nurse, Tracy dispenses hope in her award-winning book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness Twenty-two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has published hundreds of devotions, articles, and short stories in diverse publications such as Guideposts books, Focus on the Family, Woman’s World, and Ideals.