His words stung my ears, and pierced my heart like an arrow through my body. I had heard them before but had forgotten how they sounded. Hearing them made me a little girl again, begging to be understood. “I was jus trying to help,” I begged. “You know I am diabetic too? I have to do the very same thing you are doing, so I know how really I do.”
My head knew he was old and that I was dealing with a ninety nine year old brain that didn’t function as it once did, but my heart said he is speaking the truth. I don’t know how to do anything.
Mother died in 1999 and since then we, my five sisters and I, wondered what we were going to do when the time came that Daddy could no longer care for himself. It made sense that he live in the same house he and mother had built together in the fifties. It was sufficient to meet his housing needs. He was very capable of staying alone, cooking his meals etc, but housekeeping was another question.
Now his mind was still good, but his hearing and eye sight were deteriorating to the point of forcing decisions to be made. As he was only a few months from ninety nine years old, the time had come to accept that we were heading toward his final days. Not many people live to the ripe old age of ninety nine; however there is long life in his heritage so it isn’t surprising to me that he has made it. With all his senses in tact, and fairly agile he has been able to care for himself with the help of a couple of his daughters who have a routine of checking on him and occasionally taking him fresh meals.
I wanted to do my part as well. Living in another state made it impossible to help the family on a daily basis, but my in heart I wanted to do my part. We planned to go spend a week every other month and relieve my sisters who cared for him during the week. We did just that on a March week. Things went great. My husband I went back home with excitement and anticipation of our next visit.
That is where my story begins. We did go back a couple months later. My hopes were to have a repeat of my last visit. He was not feeling like going anywhere then, but that was alright with me as I liked being in Mama’s house, using her stove and cooking utensils and even sleeping on her bed. It was a great change of pace for my husband ane me, and I looked forward to just visiting. Things had changed since Mama had been gone, but there were still signs of her all through the house. The kitchen was no less a room of memories.
We were five days into our planned eight day stay. I sensed that he had been brooding for several days. I sensed he was afraid I had moved something he would need when I wasn’t there to find it. He fought for his mind. He needed things in order. I knew that. I had been so careful not to move anything of his so I was not prepared for what happened next.
“Why don’t you check your blood sugar this morning?” I suggested in the form of a question. He had washed his hands, and as he walked from the bathroom his hearing aids whistled.
“Yea, I guess I need to”, he said agreeing with me. All his supplies along with his record book was on a small table that both he and mother had used. We kept it in the same place so it had become a routine for him to follow. Thinking I was doing him a favor, I picked up the handle to replace the needle.. The one in it was white, but I picked up a purple one that was handy, and since it fit, I laid it back on the table. He had not come to his usual place to start, instead he went looking for all his testing supplies across the room. I said “Here is all your stuff Daddy”.
“I can’t find nothing,” he yelled. “You are always moving things. I wish you’d leave my stuff alone”.
I picked up the needle and showed it to him, saying “Here it is!”
He responded with anger, “No that is Sarah’s, mine ain’t like that”.
Immediately my mood changed. I felt so bad that I had misplaced something. It was never my intention to touch anything that would be laid in a different place than where he had become accustomed. I had been so careful to not even touch anything on the table where he kept the blood sugar testing supplies. My heart was pounding as he raged. I couldn’t believe they could be misplaced.
He finally turned around to the table where everything was and had been. He reached for the same needle and monitor I had shown him a few minutes before, held them up for me to see, and declared “Here it is, where it has been? You keep moving things. Leave my stuff alone!”
Somehow I was a little girl again, begging to be heard. “Daddy, I was just trying to help. I haven’t moved anything. I have been so careful not to touch this table. I promise”.
He wiped alcohol on his finger and picked up the needle. I had proudly told him I had it all ready for him. He placed it against his finger – and without trying to push the lever so the needle would penetrate his finger, he threw down what he had in his hand and started on a tirade again. “See, that is what’s wrong. You done it all wrong. Yea, just like I said. You put the wrong color in there. Now you messed me up. I’ll have to start over.”
Again, I was like a whimpering child who has just been whipped “Daddy, I was just trying to help.” He was not hearing me, his anger had replaced all reason, so I walked away, a lump in my throat and near tears. I sat down to eat my breakfast unable to say grace.
Shortly he came to his side of the table and sat down. I had poured his coffee and had everything ready for him. We ate in silence. When we were through, I said, “ You hurt my feelings Daddy, what are you going to do for help? You are running every one of us off.”
“For the likes of you, I don’t need help!” he said unaware that he may as well have slapped me across the face or forced a dagger into my heart.
A hundred year old brain, you say? Maybe. But all I heard were words that came from somewhere in my yesterday. Words I had heard before but forgotten about. Words that were spoken 60 years ago, but...
· Words that wounded a little girl.
· Words she carried with her into adult hood.
· A little girl that grew up with a low self worth and low self esteem.
· A little girl that tried harder than most to meet “someone’s” expectations.
· A little girl that looked for approval the rest of her life.
I thought the words were buried. I had truly forgiven him. I even remember when. It was 1979 when I was begging for the soul of my son and the Lord revealed to me I did not love myself. I felt stupid and dumb. I felt inferior to any and everyone. I felt I didn’t measure up to anyone’s standard. I felt I was a miserable failure and could do nothing right. I had difficulty accepting that anyone could love me. I felt unlovable. I wasn’t sure if the Lord cared enough to hear my prayer. I hesitated asking God for anything. “It wouldn’t do any good”. And it took a very few words from a man that I had loved from afar to break open an old wound. How could this be since I could point back to the time that the Lord Jesus showed me in His Word that He doesn’t make inferior people. He doesn’t make junk.
“Oh Lord you know me, You know when I’m down and when I’m up. You know what I’m going to think on tomorrow. You are acquainted with all my ways. There is not a thing about me that is hidden from you. In fact, I can’t get away from your presence. If I ascend to Heaven, or if I make my bed in Hell or if I take wings and fly away, or if I am buried in a sea, You are there and Your right hand sustains me and leads me.
“If I say, (this time) the darkness will cover me, then Your light shines around me. Even the darkness can’t hide me from your eye.
“From my Mother’s womb you protected me. Marvelous are thy works, My soul recognizes that now. Even when I was only a tiny seed, I was not insignificant to you, for all my components were planned and written down even when there was no part of me formed as yet.
“Your thoughts are so precious of me, O God! If I wanted to count them, I could not, for the sum of them is greater than sand grains.” Psalms 139 1:-18 paraphrased.
Oh how precious are thy Words oh Lord! “I don’t make junk” He seemed to say. “I make superior things of the finest quality”. That meant me. It was in His presence for the first time, all the negative words I had heard and received as truth in my growing up years, like “stupid and dumb head” were voided and erased. I knew better in my head and in my heart. So why did they hurt so bad this time? Why was I still reeling from the blow of his Words as he proclaimed again that I was a helpless person unable to do the simplest thing?
Forgiving is a journey. A journey could be a drive - a voyage - an excursion or a flight but for sure it is a trip. And on a trip we may have an obstacle in our path that would force us to detour.
My life had taken on a semblance of busy. My prayer life was on hold. I wasn’t in need of anything earth shaking so I was going on my way down life’s highway without any help from anyone! Then there was a roadblock that sent me scurrying back to Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of my faith. In Him I renewed my heart knowledge that He is supreme over all. He doesn’t make junk. And that means me!