When Parents Age...

As many of you already know, I am the youngest of 8 children, which means my parents are more like Grandparents than parents to me.  By the time I was in high school my father had already suffered a series of heart attacks, which caused me to be nervous every single day of my life.  I would wonder if he'd make to my graduation, wonder if he would be there to walk me down the isle, wonder if he would be there to see my children being born....he was, my father was there for all of those things except the birth of my younger child, Johnny.  My son Nick was 6 months old when my father died at the Cleveland Clinic due to complications of the heart.

During those last few months of my father's life my life became very complicated.  I remember coming home from work and wanting to be with my new little bundle of joy but also wanting to go and visit my dying father.  Each day was like torture for me.  Not having a better plan, I used to come home from work, take Nicholas in my arms and hold him for hours.  I wouldn't put him down until he fell asleep.  Once he was asleep, around 10 pm, I would put my coat on and drive downtown by myself to the Cleveland Clinic to spend some time with my dad.  I usually arrived back at home just before midnight and then I would drop into bed and do it all over the next day. This lasted for several month. Then, a few months after my dad died I became pregnant with my second son John, whom we named after my father, and for those of you who know Johnny, he is EXACTLY like his grandpa!  There is no question that the spirit of John Peters senior transfered to my son, little Johnny.

Today our family is having to deal with our Mother's failing health.  Right now she lives with my sister Jeanna who is a saint for having to keep her!  Three times a week we must drive my mom to dialysis in Garfield Hts (oddly enough that is where we grew up), where she is supposed to stay for a 4 hour treatment, and then we have to pick her up.  I say "supposed" to because she rarely, I mean never, has done it!  After about 2 hours my mom starts screaming and yelling to be taken off the machines immediately!  She throws a fit until she gets her way.  It breaks my heart to see her doing that because she does not realize how caring the people are at the center.  I look at her and pray that I do not end up like that, bitter and angry.  Sometimes I see so much of myself in her that it scares me.

What makes people, especially old people, so angry?  To me it seems that if I were at that jumping off point in my life I would want to be especially kind and loving so that my Father in heaven would gratefully want to receive me.  I have been through a great deal in my life, but I seldom lose hope in people.  Even though my mom is 81 years old I still hope and pray that she changes.  I think, "maybe today she will wake up and feel grateful and blessed and want to be a blessing to others."  I say seldom because there are a few people in my life for whom I am ashamed to say I have completely lost hope.  These are people who I have trusted & valued, or who have inspired me, then, you find out they are a phony, a cheat.  It's kind of like a little kid who has idolized his basketball hero his whole life only to find out he his a heroine addict.  Those kinds of people shake us to our core.  What I've learned about people is that humans have only a limited capacity to love but the good news is, God has an infinite capacity to love. So while we are sometimes unable to love or hope in others, God never gives up hope...so I guess there is always HOPE!

We have despair, God has Hope.  We have anger, God has love.  We have brokenness, God has the power to heal.  We have doubt, God has faith in us.  Thank God for God!


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