Monday, July 29, 2013


I am afraid that the last few posts are making His life sound heavy, and this one won't be any different. But thats life, burdensome, drudgery, and unhappiness. However, in between all these difficult and troubling times are moments, days and sometimes even weeks filled with pleasure, sweetness, and joy. I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the good while dealing with the bad. He has had many times over the last few years when He has had to cling to the silver lining.

After His sister came to live with us during her illness, His brother was killed in a tragic car accident. Shortly (and I mean shortly), His mother had a massive stroke. It happened the day after Thanksgiving, and at the time it seemed to Him that He was being singled out for the catastrophe bus. Of course there were many family members that were all reeling from this particular series of tragic events, but He was the one who everyone turned to for help and guidance. He was the one who had to make decisions about His mother's health care, maintain His families sanity, and sort through all the mounds of to-do lists that come with such things. He was hoping that rehabilitation would be effective in His mother's care, but after a few months realized that her health was declining. He brought her home with hospice care, hoping to make her comfortable for as long as He could.  She was bedridden and she could not speak. It was clear her mind was still there and you could see the frustration in her eyes with her inability to communicate. This was a difficult situation in its own right, but the tragicness, and resulting weariness were intensified as all the incidences were piled on top of each other.

As I watched Him care for His mother I was moved by His gentleness, kindness, and compassion for her. There were times when hospice could not be there to help her with personal matters, and during those times He took care of her needs. It must have been extremely difficult for her to have Him be her caretaker. However, He worked hard to help her keep her dignity. He often became frustrated at the demands placed on Him, as well as just feeling helpless, but He never let her see it. He believes He will see His mother again, and she will probably have a lot to say to Him about what went down. I think she will embrace Him and thank Him for being such a good son who loves His mother. Through some very dark days He was her silver lining.

He spoke without words... more reason I love Him

Monday, July 22, 2013


My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about ten years ago. They decided that they needed to move from their rather large three story home to one that would be more manageable as his disease progressed. A building lot down the street from us came on the market and they decided to buy it and build a home. The reason they chose to build there was because of Him. First, they knew that we had no intention of ever moving and they also knew they needed to live by one of their children. Second, moving one town away from their old home let them stay close to their friends. And third, He would be close by.

My parents have relied on Him for a long time. They have not always need the level of help they require now, but He has always been their go to guy when things broke and my dad couldn't fix them. My father is the tall thin academic type who works hard, but lets say that he is limited physically. Recognizing this, He stepped in early to volunteer His brawn. Since then they have continued to accept His help over the years. Often when they would discuss some home project they were planing on hiring out with us, He would enlist Himself to do it.

My extended family is big and they all help out with my parents. However, He is still their go to guy. In between His responsibilities at home, His jobs, our kids, and other family duties, He heeds the call to help them. He has been a part of my family for many years, still, I am not sure if He sees Himself as their son, or a son-in-law. If the first, He may be helping because it is a familial obligation. If the second, He may feel that He needs to please them for their acceptance. As i look at it, it doesn't matter. The first shows that He accepts His place in my family and feels the same obligation as if His own. The second shows that He cares for me enough to fulfill whatever family obligations I have. Either way, by caring for my parents, He is caring for me.

He is dutiful... more reason I love Him.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Our oldest daughter was recently married. She had always wanted the reception to be in our garden. Our yard is not exceptionally large, but it is a fully landscaped perennial garden with multiple flower beds including ones in the front and on the sides of the house. It is a lot of work to keep it watered,  weeded, green and bug free. We also have a large patio area where we have about 21 pots we plant every year with annuals. He loves to work in the garden, but it can be overwhelming. It can be maintained by weekly gardening, but it requires a lot more attention to get ready for a wedding. During this same time our family was dealing with multiple time consuming issues and financial strains. We knew that we could not hire any help to get our yard ready for the wedding, so we plugged along preparing for a late spring reception.

Months ( I mean months), earlier He had started battling what He believed to be unavoidable exhaustion from all His responsibilities. I convinced Him to finally go to the doctor who ran every test he could think of, and concurred His suspicion that He was indeed overwhelmingly exhausted. The doctor ordered Him to take time off from work and find some time to rest. The idiom "no rest for the weary" seemed so very applicable. He knew that under the circumstances that He could not "rest", so He carried on. He really did't even slow down. I watched helplessly as the stress started to make His face look haggard. He suffered from a chronic high temperature hovering around 102. He started to walk slower, and even hunch a little. People would tell Him He didn't look well. The wedding came and went, and He was pleased that it lived up to what His daughter (and I), had dreamed of. After the wedding some of His other stressors also resolved themselves (although they also created new ones).

A few months after the wedding He decided that He better go back to the doctor. That in itself meant something was serious. Finally, and oddly, a diagnosis was found. He had been under the influence of mononucleosis (for over 6 months by now, complicated by bacterial infections). I look back at the wedding pictures and I can see how sick He was. He smiles in all the pictures, but you can see that He was not well. When I think of Him out in the garden for weeks, kneeling and sweating, trying to get the yard pristine for our daughter it makes me want to cry. He worked tirelessly, gave everything He had, and wasn't about to let anyone down.

He persevered... more reason I love Him.

Monday, July 8, 2013


He told me to make room. His sister had battled breast cancer for a year. At her year mark she was deemed free and clear of the disease. A few months after her good news her husband died suddenly. Within a year she had dealt with multiple personal trials and moved from her home into an apartment. After a particularly trying time she called Him for support and advice. We went to her home together and after talking to her for a time noticed that she didn't look healthy. She probably had not been looking after herself and was tired. He encouraged her to see the doctor. Finally, after multiple promptings she relented. When He checked back to see what the doctor had to say she told Him her cancer had returned.

As soon as He hung up the phone He called to tell me (ask, tell, it really doesn't matter), that I needed to go get her and bring her and her teenage daughter home with us. Although I understood his alarmist reaction I told Him we needed to ask her if she wanted to come, and then make arrangements for her to move. Within a week she was settled in our home. It was a stretch for our large family to add more, but no one complained. I also assume it was hard on her and her daughter. Our families did not share the same household priorities, but He tried to maintain a consistent set of rules for our home, regardless of differing points of view. This was probably more difficult for her and even more so for her daughter. With the HIPPA laws, caring for His sister was a trial. She did not want anyone to know the seriousness of her condition and it caused real frustration for those trying to care for her.

Regardless of HIPPA (don't get me started, I understand the need for personal privacy, but there are instances like this when it may cause more harm to the patient to lack information that could help the caretaker take better care of them), the oncologist told Him the cancer was advanced, but that she would hopefully make it a few more months. Defying all odds, and I think through sheer will power on her part, she lived for three years beyond her prognosis (just to see her daughter graduate high school). It was difficult for Him to watch His sister suffer, and to try and make her comfortable. However, His biggest challenge was to run interception for her, trying to keep her safe, healthy, happy, and trouble free. Beyond the added physical strain and the financial burden placed on Him, He bore an enormous mental burden. This probably took the greatest toll on Him. But it was His immediate reaction to her returned illness that speaks to who He is. He did not hesitate to step up when she needed someone. He did not weigh the pro's and cons of bringing her home. And He never wavered in His decision once He had made it. He never regretted bringing her into our home either. I know she felt safe, cared for, and loved, because she told me so. The most telling mark of His character however, is that the decision to bring her into our home and care for her was an automatic gut reaction.

He made room... more reason I love Him.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I previously noted He seeks to be a spiritual man. Some like to argue that spiritual and religious are separate and distinct ideologies. However, He cannot understand how either one can be divorced from the other. He believes that the purpose of organized religion facilitates the growth of our spiritual understanding, and the quest for a spiritual life will lead one to organized religion. If we search for God in our lives, and we try to become closer to Him, it is religion that offers a communal organization that helps us understand who we are and why we are here. In other words, a fundamental belief in God recognizes that we are not alone, we cannot progress alone, and we are foundationally organized with others. This then acknowledges that we can neither find greater spiritual understanding without working with and serving others, nor can we progress without having them serve us. In essence, organized religion creates a community of similarly minded believers who work together for enlightenment, and greater faith. It is through interaction with others that situations present themselves in which we find the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth. For these reasons He embraces His church membership as essential to His spiritual development.

He is not a Sunday only member either. He strives to daily live the tenants of His faith.  However, He believes Sunday worship is an outward acknowledgement of an inward commitment, and therefore embraces the Sabbath and sets it apart from other days. His week is full. He rises early every morning, and Sunday is no different. In our faith we do not have paid clergy, therefore we rely on each other for all aspects of our religious organization. He, like most faithful members spend many volunteer hours on the Sabbath serving others. After a long week, and a busy weekend He rises at 6:00 am in order to begin His Sunday service. Although He often complains about needing a break from work, He never complains about His religious obligation.  He loves God enough that He willingly and selflessly follows the letter of the commandment to serve others. But it is how He embraces the spirit of the law, manifested through His inner commitment on the Sabbath, that is the true mark of His faith.

He believes... more reason I love Him.