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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)

TITLE: A New Kind of Normal?
By Robyn Burke


Scrutinize, investigate, examine, and explore. The theme of my life lately seems to be focused around taking a closer look at things. Checking things out so to speak.

As one job ended, another popped up. Excited about the possibilities I examined it from every angle. Was this a good fit for me? Would it broaden my horizons? Researching the company told me I would have ample opportunities for advancement if I so chose to pursue them. Still, a small bubble of hesitation rolled over my shoulders. I wasn’t completely sold.

Simultaneous with this were changes in my mother’s life. At 82, I count it a huge blessing that mom has been able to maintain an independent lifestyle—aside from no longer driving, that is. So when she suddenly started experiencing severe back pain and the visits to the Doctors for tests began, I was glad I had time to devote to this. The day we reported back to the pain clinic that the cortisone treatment had worked was a cause for celebration. We took a to-go box from her favorite take-out and picnicked in the sunshine at a beautiful historical park nearby. Little did I know this would be the last excursion we would take for a very long time.

The phone call later that night that mom had fallen and was being transported to the hospital had me speeding down the highway just seconds after it came in. An ambulance ride and several X-rays later showed two broken bones in her ankle and the need for surgery imminent. Life for mom was about to change in a big way.

As the week progressed we began to check out post-op options. She was going to need full time care, as she wasn’t strong enough to use a walker or even shift from a bed to a wheelchair by herself. I made arrangements for her transfer to St. Francis, a nearby facility that specialized in short term care and physical therapy.

With the mom squared away but the future uncertain, I returned to re-examining the job offer that still lay before me. I wanted to be available for my mom; that much was clear. I suddenly seemed to be the listening ear for a myriad of people and problems and I wanted to be able to be there for them as well. What to do, what to do? Feeling overwhelmed by it all I came home each night and cried. I would have loved to pull the blankets over my head and vacate for awhile but duty called.

I was concerned about mom. Sometimes, a broken bone for an elderly person signals the beginning of the end and mom’s confusion and apathy made me think that might be the way she was headed. I prayed each day for strength for her and grace for me.

The evening I decided to not take the job was the evening peace prevailed. I had just filed for state assisted medical care for my mother and the worry that the request would be denied should have had me grasping any and all job offers but I was holding tight to the belief that Jehovah Jireh—my provider—was just that.

I found myself reflecting on the comment my mother had made to the discharge nurse the afternoon we checked her out of the hospital. The standard questions from the nurse, such as "What’s your name?" "What’s your birth date?” were then followed by “Do you know where you are going?” to which my mother tartly replied, “Well, eventually I’m going to Heaven.” Slight pause. “But today, I think I’m going to St. Francis.”

The look on the nurse’s face was priceless, but then so was my mother’s answer. Remembering this is what gives me a calm assurance that turning down the job was right for me today. Remembering this is what gives me a calm assurance that whether this is the beginning of the end for mom or just a new kind of normal, God’s got it all under control.

Check out this verse from the Message: He (God) knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:28)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst06/16/11
Love how you brought together "checkout" as an investigation & "checkout" as a discharge from hospital. Love that Mom has her destinations figured out too! Good insight into dealing with life's challenges; a well-written article.

A little red ink: Remember to capitalize "Mom" when used as a proper noun, thus "that mom had fallen" should be "that Mom had fallen" etc. Lower case is for when it's "my mom" or "a mom" as with "to which my mother tartly replied". And one more I think was a typo? "With the mom squared away..." ;-)
Laury Hubrich 06/16/11
Our lives are always changing - always finding new kinds of normals, for sure. This is something many of us have gone through or will.
Bonnie Bowden 06/18/11
Feeling finally at peace, probably meant that the MC made the right decision. It is difficult to decide what to do when a parent's health is in jeopardy.