Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER (02/28/19)
TITLE: A Surprising Revelation
By Bonnie Kronberger
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The other side of my bed is empty after fifty-four years because my ailing, injured husband is in a nursing home. Almost four years now I’ve been his full time caregiver, so the respite from taking care of him is liberating.
Careful due diligence gives me comfort that I’ve selected the best care facility available. The poor guy has broken his dominant arm and can no longer feed himself or walk. I come to the facility twice a day and spend several hours there. The first week is rough. Time to release my claim of care, and trust other people to know and meet his needs. But I am not comforted by the many different caregivers and shift changes. So I pray for God’s watchfulness over Lee and trust He is overseeing it all.
One night I try surrendering my fretful worrying when this passage of scripture comes to mind. Psalm 91:4,5 “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night. . .”
My fear turns to laughter as I picture a fluffy Mother God hen sitting atop Lee’s chest as he sleeps in his bed. Visions of guardian angels hovering around complete the picture and I'm able to sleep in peace.
After the first week I meet with hospice and the facility supervisors to determine Lee’s future care. Two big concerns need addressing. Lee needs to be out of bed part of the time and he needs a padded recliner wheelchair so he will be comfortable sitting for hours. They agree this is in his best interest and order it to happen. He will have lunch and dinner in the dining room and will be assisted with eating. My prayers are heard and I can breathe easier.
I continue to visit daily. Several snafus happen over a period of days, a couple that are very disturbing. It seems orders don’t get written or workers don’t read the orders. I pray for grace to not be critical about little things, but for wisdom to be Lee’s advocate for his welfare and safety. My presence frees the staff from some of his care as I wheel him to meals and feed him. I expect he will never come home.
There is pleasure in spending time with Lee and interacting with his daily care. Granted, I am enjoying my freedom to come and go and only be responsible for myself. Yet, I think I would rather take care of him, shower him with love, and keep him safe and comfortable.
It seems my life is finding a pleasant rhythm and all is well, until I walk into Lee’s room on a Monday morning and find him dozing in his recliner with his hot lunch uncovered, set before him. No one is assisting him or waking him up to eat. I get him eating, praying for peace to not jump to conclusions, but my heart once again feels burdened that I can’t care for him. Next a worker comes in and says Lee needs to be ready to go to a doctor off-site. The only response I get to, “Why?” is “I don’t know.” I immediately call Lee’s hospice worker and she too is adamant that he not leave the facility. My body trembles, imagining him hoisted and transported all alone to an unknown doctor.
When the hospice nurse arrives and straightens out the mistake I lose it. “I can’t do this.” I wail. “I want to take him home!” Together we agree it can be done. Hospice will continue to serve Lee in our home and teach me what I need to do. Decision made!
My life rhythm will change once again. Caregivers will be in and out of our home, helping me with all Lee’s needs. I know I must look after myself too, and I will do that, but peace fills me as I choose to take back his care. My love for Lee is greater than my love for myself—a bit of a surprising revelation.
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