So, I got word today that Dad will be admitted to a nursing home two days from now. This is not news that anyone who loves her parent ever wants to hear. Although with the money for his care rapidly disappearing, there are not too many alternatives – especially when he is as confused as he oftentimes is nowadays.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
The good news is this all “just happens” to be happening after I had already purchased my ticket and planned to be home for a visit. I am profoundly grateful I will be there to help support him during this transition. Grace and divine timing, to be sure.
In the past few weeks I had confided to a few friends that there was a great likelihood Dad would be placed in a nursing home soon. I often added that it broke my heart to even think about it. And then a couple days ago I dreamed that I died “of heart issues.” Fortunately, I eventually realized the connection and have determined to avoid using that particular expression (“heartbroken”) again whenever possible.
This is not just me making huge leaps of logic, by the way. I know it is a spiritual law that our words and thoughts create our reality. In addition, I have read about heart surgeons who have interviewed their patients asking them this question: ‘Do you know why you had a heart attack?’ And over and over they heard stories of people who had suffered great heartache due to relationship issues with their children, their spouse, etc. Anecdotal evidence does show that a broken heart can sometimes precipitate a literal broken heart.
So, I have been attempting to change my words and thinking in any number of situations recently. Here is this morning’s realization:
I have been dreading Dad’s placement in a home. My fears have been 1) that he would feel totally lost because nothing and no one would be familiar, 2) that his confusion would be enormous, and 3) that he would go downhill very, very fast. But today I finally realized that my fears could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. So this morning while I was traveling, I began to consider how I could look at this situation differently.
I decided this: Dad is – or at least was, before his memory and cognition got so damaged – an outgoing, gregarious man. He often enjoys – or at least did enjoy – meeting new people. Perhaps I can encourage him to use this as an opportunity to make new friends among the staff and residents. Sadly, there will be a slim chance that he will actually remember any of these people from day to day, however perhaps for just a moment, he will think of his move there as an adventure and an opportunity.
In addition, for several years, Dad used to be one of those wonderful souls who would bring church or Bible studies to those people in nursing homes who could not get out to attend a house of worship on their own. On various Sunday afternoons, he would go out – sometimes with a minister, sometimes as a layperson – and do some teaching or lead some singing and then he would greet people afterwards. Perhaps I can remind Dad that he can still be a blessing to those who are without family or friends or opportunities. He can be a friend. He can be a light. Maybe if he thinks in these terms he will think of himself as useful rather than lost.
I don’t know. Truly I don’t. But I realize I have got to change my thinking for my own sanity and health if not for Dad’s. I can also choose to realize, as a friend told me today, that Dad may have one foot already in the next world. Perhaps at some level he is losing interest in this physical reality because his eyes are on the next world. This thought actually gives me comfort. I know that Dad is at peace with what happens after death. And I am, too. So it would behoove me to stop dreading this downward spiral and to realize that it is all part of the path to the next world.
So, friends, that’s my story for the day. We all face transitions like this at various times in our lives. Sometimes a change in perspective can be vastly helpful.
Thank you to those of you who have helped me to see this situation differently.
Blessings to each one of you.