I guided my speeding van down the freeway, struggling to keep my eyes open as sheer exhaustion grabbed a hold of my sleep-derived body. I turned the radio up louder and cracked the window. Inhaling the fresh air, I prayed one more time, “Lord, please give me the strength to face one more day, one more hour, one more minute.” Before long, I mounted the stairs, and knocked on the door.
The door opened, revealing my sister, Lesley, on the other side. “Hey.”
“So, how was his night? Did he sleep at all?”
“He only slept from about ten to twelve. He’s been up, oh, about ten times every hour since then.”
“So, you didn’t sleep either?”
She shook her head.
Stepping into the condo, I walked to my dad’s bedside. “Good morning, Dad. How are you feeling?”
He mumbled something about his breakfast as he lifted a forkful of eggs into his mouth. Setting his fork down, he looked at me. “I don’t like this juice, what else do we have?”
Stepping into the kitchen, I scoured through the cupboards looking for something that would appeal to him. I called out every imaginable juice and pop until something, anything, appealed to him.
My sister soon left, to take care of her own children, and I was left to care for my dad until evening. I watched on the verge of tears as he’d struggle to walk, eat, or simply take a shower.
He’d been diagnosed with prostrate cancer that had worked its way into his bones – making every movement painful, strenuous, and labor some. Even brushing his teeth became almost impossible. But he refused to stay in bed and rest. His mind whirled and twirled, always directing him to get up, but going nowhere.
“Dad, you were just up ten minutes ago,” I’d plead. “Why don’t you rest, you need to sleep.”
He’d grit his teeth. “Are you going to help me get up or not?”
If I didn’t help him, he’d struggle on his own. So, I’d walk to his bedside. Pulling on his arms as he pushed, I’d pray. “Lord, please help me to get him up.” I’d watch as his face cringed in pain. But the Lord would give me the physical strength to lift him, and my dad would get up, yet, one more time – with no real place to go.
Most of my father’s life, he had run from God. I recalled one time at my house, several months before, when I announced, “Dad, I want to pray with you.” Moments later a loud thud echoed from the door. Walking to the window, I watched as my father hobbled to his car – still running from God and prayer.
But now, my father had finally, given his heart to the Lord. During the time he required full time care, I read the Bible and prayed with him, and we listened to praise music together. His physical body deteriorated and it was hard to watch a once, healthy, strong man waste away, but his running from God had ceased. I never had been close to my dad, but we had a time of sharing and leaning on the Lord together. Although my dad suffered in excruciating pain, I was privileged to have that time with him – It was a labor of love.