“God is Love.” More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.”
– Mary Baker Eddy
A year ago on President’s Day my mom was brought to our home by ambulance for hospice care. A hospice nurse arrived to show me how to care for Moz. We didn’t know then how long we had with her – six months? three months? We had half a day. A year ago I was experiencing my last time on earth with Moz. It was a holy time. Precious and beautiful.
This year I have been challenged to reach out to God as never before: In the passing of my mother; in the need to find a new home for my father; in a week when the human situation seemed impossible to “fix.”
I remember standing in a hospital elevator with my brother, Dave – we’d just visited our dad on the second floor, and then our mom on the third. We’d just learned that their assisted living home would not be taking them back after their release from the hospital because of Mom’s medical circumstances. We would need to find them a new home in the next two days – before Mom got discharged into hospice care. A new home for them might cost potentially $12,000 a month. My parents did not have the financial resources to pay for this, and I was calculating in my head how long my own retirement savings might last if I needed to get into it to help my parents. I was at the lowest point in my life at that moment. At the bottomest bottom. My brother, David, looked down at me in the elevator (he is 6’3″ and I am 5’3″ – so when I say he “looked down at me” I’m saying that in a literal way) and, with a rueful smile, summed up our current situation with these words: “What a shitstorm.” His pithy commentary got me laughing at the absurdity of this human dream. I really needed that healing laugh.
I turned to God in my thoughts. One word came through the fear: “Trust.”
When had Love ever let me down? Never, never, never.
It came to me that I needed to bring Mom and Dad into my own home when they were discharged from the hospital. I didn’t want to ship them off to another place that felt like an institution with a bunch of strangers. I called my husband about my thoughts, and he agreed that this is what we needed to do for my parents.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, exactly – I am a teacher and, although I’d planned to take the week off to care for my parents, I wasn’t sure what would happen after that. Would I need to get someone to care for my parents during the day while I worked? And if I provided care for my parents at night, when would I sleep? But as all these panicked questions whirled around in my head, this phrase from Scriptures popped up: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself…” (Matthew 6:34) And once again that one word: “Trust.” Okay then. I would just take this one moment at a time.
I let the hospital people and the hospice people know what my husband and I had decided. They asked me if I was sure about this – they seemed concerned for me. I assured them this is what we wanted to do. The decision felt “right” to me – I had that sense of assurance that always comes to me when I know I’m being directed by Love.
Of course, the actual morning of the day Mom was to be released into my care, I panicked and tried to find a way to get out of the commitment I’d made. The heavy responsibility of it all freaked me out for a time. In my panic I visited a place that provided home nursing care – and learned 24/7 care would cost $20,000 a month. I called another assisted living place to see if there were any openings – which there were not. Finally, I was able to accept that this was what Love was directing me to do. I pictured God gently, but firmly, directing me down the path I needed to take for Mom – “His rod and His staff they comfort me.”
Moz was brought to my home by ambulance and wheeled into my living room. I sang her favorite Christian Science hymns to her, and we shared our love for one another. Moz was scared about dying – and I reassured her that nothing could separate us from Love, and from our love for each other – “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
A hospice nurse came over to show me how to do what I needed to do humanly for Moz. My husband came home and took the first shift, with the idea that I would come down at midnight to take the night shift. Not long after I went to bed, my husband came up and told me that Moz wanted to see me, though. So I went downstairs to reassure her that we were there, that Love was there, and that she wasn’t going to be alone. She was smiling with a joy I hadn’t seen earlier that day – her whole face was lit up – and she said, “Okay.”
When I came down later to take up my post by her bed, Moz was sleeping. After an hour I gave her comfort medication, and again an hour later. I dozed on the couch next to Moz. At some point this sense of joy and peace entered my dreams and I woke up. It felt like the air had gently shifted around me. (Later I would describe that moment as feeling like I’d been brushed by angel wings.) Moz wasn’t struggling to breathe, and the atmosphere around me was very still and quiet. I closed my eyes to go back to sleep, and then opened them again. I rose up from the couch and went to check on Moz. She felt cool. I went upstairs to my husband and told him I thought Moz had passed, and he came downstairs with me to check. He affirmed she was gone.
I was so grateful that God had led me to bring her into my home that day!!!
So now we needed to find a new home for Dad – originally the plan was that he would stay with Mom in our house – but that wasn’t going to work now. Dad was going to be discharged in the next couple of days and we needed to find a new home for him quickly. Once again we seemed to be faced with a daunting task.
“Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.”
– Mary Baker Eddy
When my brother and I talked to the hospital social workers about Dad, they suggested that we look into adult family homes. They gave me a booklet with names and phone numbers of places we could check.
When we came back to my house after the talk with the hospital social workers a glorious rainbow arched across the sky. A promise.
I began making phone calls to adult family homes. On the second call I found a home that felt right to me. My brother and I checked it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs, and a kind woman met us at the door. Her kind warmth, and the bird feeders, and the dogs and cats all reminded me of my mom – I knew Moz would have called this woman her friend. And the monthly cost for this home for Dad was within his financial resources.
And that is where we ended up bringing our dad.
Dad has lived there almost a year now. His home is 15 minutes from my home, and I’m able to visit him often and take him for drives .
My heart overflows with gratitude for all the blessings I’ve experienced and witnessed in the last year.
“Bless the Lord… who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies…”
– Psalms 103