Collecting Tears

So mom is in the hospital – again – and may or may not be released within the next 24 hours or so, depending on which doctor gets to do which tests and when.

My wife and I have an odd tradition that started as a result of this. After mom gets admitted to the hospital, we take our leave and stop on the way home and have dinner at Applebee’s.

It started innocently enough. A couple of times we got out of the hospital late – 11 pm, midnight – and neither of us had eaten since lunch. Applebee’s was the only place open at that hour where we could get a hot, plentiful meal in a fairly benign setting. We’ve done that a number of times now. Last night we were relatively early: 8:30 pm or so.

Now on the way there, my wife, who had a longer day than I did, asks me, “Would you do it all again, having your mom come to stay with us, if you knew what we’d go through?”

And I said without hesitating, “Yes.” And not just because our daughter was sitting in the back seat.

See, it’s not just my mother’s blessing that she lives with us. It’s a blessing for us, too. It’s been a blessing to be able to serve God this way, but it’s also been a blessing because when mom’s time comes, we’re not going to have any regrets about not having spent more time with her.

I’ve had the chance to talk to her and enjoy her company. My daughter has had the chance to talk to her and learn about what life was like growing up in the depression and during World War II, and we’ve all picked up a few words in Norwegian. It’s been a blessing because my queasiness about going into a hospital – a building full of sick people – has pretty much vanished. It’s been a blessing when mom says she’s sorry I have to take care of her to be able to say, “Hey, you took care of me for all those years – now it’s my turn.” It’s been a blessing to see that she gets to church when she’s able, and I’m sure it’s a blessing for our church family to have her there.

The person I feel bad for is my brother. He’s doing what he can to help – but he lives 12 hours from here and his wife is seriously ill, and to be honest, I don’t know that his emotional constitution is up to taking what my family has been through, probably 6 hospital stays in the last twelve months. Because of these circumstances, he’s going to miss out on all of these blessings. And he’s going to miss out on all of these little moments that mom is sharing with us, from family history to chatting while she helps with the dishes or her peculiar sense of humor (which I inherited and passed on to my children). My brother is missing out on the moments that some day will be lost in time…

I could say I drew the short straw on this one, but I refuse to look at it that way. I always wanted to be the right person in the right place at the right time for something. And when it came to caring for mom, that’s exactly what I am. That’s a blessing, too.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer)
Blade Runner

I think these hands have felt a lot
I don’t know, what have I touched
I think these eyes have seen a lot
I don’t know, maybe they’ve seen too much

(via iPod Shuffle)


4 responses to “Collecting Tears

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you once again, Joe. I hope all turns out well. Your post is beautifully sincere and well-spoken. I too was so very happy to have the chance with my mom and dad in their last years, along with one of my sisters, but the other sister truly missed out on an exquisite opportunity to know them as we came to know them. The elderly (aside from my mom’s Alzheimer’s)are very open to sharing their lives as they get closer to the end, and we learned so much from and about them that we never would have known. Bless you all. susan @ spinning

  2. Well said, and more important, acted upon.

  3. Life is good because it it hard. And, it is those hard moments which make us know and understand the beauty of life, the world and God’s blessing.Best wishes and God’s blessing from a friend in the boondocks.

  4. Joe I’m glad you are setting the example for service. The last thing my dad and I said to each other a couple of hours before his death were I love you. May you have the same memory. And I can tell you there is no prepartion for the loss, no matter how expected it is. There will always be a hole in your heart that can not be filled when she is gone. All you can do is enjoy every moment she has left. May God’s best blessings be upon you for your service to one of his children, your mother.

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