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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Those Last Days
By nicole wian


My father-in-law died in June. By July, my mother-in-law could no longer care for herself. Her other half was gone, and she was losing her own battle with life, without the vital piece which was him.

She would come live with us. This is what I told my husband when we talked about the dilemma. Gretchen was not eating, showering, or doing much of anything for that matter, and she needed in-home care. Iíd always been very close to Gretchen. Although we didnít always share the same views, I was lucky to have a relationship of ease with her. So, there was no question. We would move her in. It didnít matter that I had small children. I was confident God would not give me more than I could handle. When I felt depleted, as I was prepared to at times, He would be my source. I felt a sense of purpose with this assignment. When friends and family expressed concern over whether Iíd be able to handle it, I smiled and told them that God would give me the energy.

Except, it wasnít that simple. When, my husband and I went to his motherís house the next day and made our announcement, we found, that it was not a welcome suggestion. Yet, it was not a suggestion, but a necessity that we could see as clear as day. Gretchen didnít see it that way. She did not want to leave her home, insisting that she was fine. We were at a standstill after hours of conversation, and Paul and I went home, discouraged.

So that weekend we went with Paulís siblings to convince Gretchen that this was what was needed. Outnumbered, unable to deny that she was not feeling or doing well at all, incapable of doing even the simplest tasks, she finally, in tears, conceded.

So, we packed up her essentials and brought her home. She was sullen on the way over, but the brunt of her anger seemed to be directed at me.

I cried out to God that night, confused. I thought this was what He wanted. That Iíd be blessed, sheíd be grateful. He reminded me that I could do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Monday, I was alone with her. She was still angry but over time, she did soften. Slowly, some of her came back, through having someone to talk to, and through the patience God was increasing in me.

But there were days when she was depressed. And worse than those were the demanding days. She became at moments like a child, deciding she needed something, in my opinion, of little significance right as I sat down to work, after Iíd thought Iíd brought her everything she could possibly need. If I didnít get something quickly enough, she would either become snappy, or in a slow and quiet voice, say, ďThatís okay,Ē intentionally leaving the feeling that it were not okay.

I had to give it all to God. Again and again. I couldnít confide in Paul. It was his mother. So at night, with everyone asleep, Iíd curl up downstairs with my Bible and pour out everything to the Father.

It was the most trying time of my life. It was also the largest blessing. God was with me in itís short entirety, as only six months later Gretchen passed away. We had our moments. I knew she loved and appreciated me, because she told me a week before she died. She said that she had prayed for me since Paul was a boy, not knowing who I would be, but praying that God would put the perfect woman for Paul in his life and that I was an answer to that prayer.

Sheíd prayed for my purity, for my schooling, for my relationships, and for my walk with God. To know that as a child, Iíd been prayed for by a woman I had not yet met, touched me in ways I canít explain. And then Gretchen told me that not only did God put me in Paulís life, He put me in hers and she knew that God had known even thirty years ago that I would be the one to care for her in her last days. She said she was glad God chose me.

Iím glad too. The most difficult time in my life turned into the greatest blessing. Our God is an amazing God.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
This story is an excellent witness to God's grace and strength for us in the most difficult times of our lives. I'm glad your mother-in-law recognized what you were doing for her, finally, and shared her former prayers for you and her appeciation of you.
Colin Swann05/21/08
Thanks for this down-to-earth article. Life brings its own trials but God is able. Life experience stories are interesting. Enjoyed! Thanks!