My father-in-law has a clogged artery in his neck which has caused vascular dementia. In September 2009, he had digressed enough to be placed in a hospital bed permanently. The family had a choice: find a nursing home to care for him, or keep him at home.
My husband is the youngest of 5 kids. They, plus my mother-in-law, decided to keep him at home. They came up with shifts to help. Each sibling was assigned a Sunday morning to come and stay while my MIL went to church. The 3 brothers rotated the evenings to come and help put Papa to bed each evening. The 2 sisters swapped Saturdays back and forth to help out. Over the past year, the kids and I have tried to spend every Tuesday lunchtime with her and help around the house.
This routine has gone on for 4 years. That’s a long time. Yet it’s a short time.
For 4 years I have watched a family work together to care for a father who loves them very much. I have watched 5 siblings join with each other for a common reason and grow closer to each other because of it.
I have watched a wife show total dedication to a husband she has been married to for almost 60 years. I have learned from her what true love and sacrifice looks like.
For the past 4 years, she has done everything for that man. Fed him, bathed him, changed him, moved him. All the necessities. I’m not sure how long it’s been since he has said anything to her. There’s been no “thank you,” or “I appreciate you.” He can’t say anything. We don’t even know if he recognizes anyone. But day in and day out, any hour of the day or night she cares for the one whom she vowed to be with “til death do us part.” I have never heard her complain. I have never heard her get angry about the situation. Has she missed ordinary life during the past few years? Yes. Has she felt remorse for missing life events with others? Yes. But she didn’t make a vow to those people.
Love is a choice. It is patient. It shows kindness even when the other person doesn’t deserve it. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.
I watched Grandma battle it out with a nurse’s aide when his care by her was not good enough. I watched her fight for materials and help for him when she needed them. I watched her feed him spoonful by spoonful of liquid food with a smile on her lips and love in her eyes. I watched her kiss him and tell him how much she loved him, even though he couldn’t say, “I love you” back. I never saw her give up on him even when she had to change the bed 3 times in a row.
Love is a choice. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes, even when there seems to be no hope. It always perseveres.
Grandma called the family in today (Thursday). He probably only has a few days left to live. My husband rushed over to the house to be by her side, as did many family members throughout the day as they could. We don’t know what is going to happen or when.
But we know the ONE who does. And it is a comfort to know that Papa will be walking in a perfect body one day soon with his Savior by his side.
Love is a choice. True love never fails.