I couldn’t stop the tears that streamed down my cheeks as I drove away from my parent’s house. I had accepted the fact that Mom had dementia several months ago and life would never be the same. But my heart was breaking as I watched the cruel illness played out in ways I didn’t want to accept.
As I drove away, I began to think about how I would cope with my feelings. I prayed. I cried. I longed for the past. I talked with my sisters who are on the same journey.
And then I decided I would respond with gratitude. Not gratitude for an ugly illness. Gratitude for the good days Mom has left and the opportunity to spend those days with her. Gratitude for a family that has decided to lock arms and walk the road together, regardless of how hard it gets.
Dad gets a gold medal for being an extraordinary caregiver. Mom has become increasingly dependent on him but he responds with love and patience, even as I see fatigue in every step. After more than 60 years of marriage, he chooses to stand beside his loved one “in sickness and in health.”
My three sisters are my lifeline. I’m a middle child and love each of them differently, but through my mother’s illness, our relationships have become stronger, more focused, and forever constant. We live in four different states but communicate weekly, and sometimes daily, on how to best take care of Mom and who’s headed to their house next to help Dad as her illness progresses.
My husband is a saint. He never complains of my trip every other week across state lines to spend a night and a day with my parents. He alters his routine to make time for ballgames, church events, or homework help with our 13-year-old son while I’m gone.
So today I’m choosing a thankful heart for a family I could never replace, instead of raging at an illness I can’t change. At the heart of that family is a mom who’s invested her life taking care of others and deserves more than we can offer as the roles reverse.
This is the month to count our blessings. What are you thankful for? Will you allow it to permeate your heart?
Only then, will it change your perspective.