“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck
I am afraid. I am faced undeniably with the mortality of the people around me. Most specifically, my father-in-law.
I have reached the age at which you begin to recognize the fact that your parents–and the parents of your spouse–aren’t going to be around forever. It is incredibly painful.
I was probably 14 years old when I first met my hubby’s dad. Here’s a frightening thought: I have known him more than half my life. He was an avid hunter and fisherman up until about maybe 7 years ago when his physical limitations started to get the better of him. I remember when I was a teenager and I would go out fishing with my then boyfriend/now hubby, wanting to make a good impression on his dad. I have never been one to love the slimy scaly feel of a fish between my fingers. But because I loved my boyfriend, I would go. Hubby’s dad is a take no prisoners kinda guy. He will ask you anything…appropriate or inappropriate. He will say it just like it is and have no shame about it. You’ve gotta love that in a person. Truly. We don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on certain things, but we agree to disagree. I have learned over the years to appreciate him and enjoy his certain brand of humor. And I have also learned to let a lot of things just roll off my back.
My in-laws are an integral part of who I am and they made my hubby who he is–they raised a wonderful son. They love me and have always treated me like one of their daughters. And though my hubby’s dad has been known to be a bit of a crotchety old dude, he is a lovable old dude. He is 83 years old. I have watched him physically decline over the last several years. There have been times when I have been extremely frustrated with him–before he was so sick and when he was so crotchety–and most recently I have come to a place where I sincerely love him and see him as an aging man who is coming to terms with that very fact and my compassion for him has kicked in to overdrive.
He is struggling with some pretty significant medical issues at the moment. And it is at this moment that I see the divine providence of our moving back to within a day’s drive.
So why am I afraid? Maybe I am afraid of feeling the pain that I remember feeling when my granddaddy passed away 16 years ago. Maybe I am afraid that I won’t know how to comfort my hubby while he is dealing with his hurt about his father’s sickness or when he loses his father. Maybe it is too scary for me to think about losing my own parents. I don’t know. What I do know is that reality bites sometimes. And I have to find a way to deal with what is. I am the kind of person who avoids pain when I can. I avoid confrontation. I am a procrastinator by nature. And when I am confronted with the realities of life–and death–my choice would be avoid, avoid, avoid. This is too close to avoid. Aging and dying is a part of life. It is part of something bigger than us. God’s big picture. Who am I to question God’s big picture? I do trust completely in God’s big picture.
And so I don’t ask God “Why”. I ask, “Help me get from here to there. Help me deal with what comes day by day.” And I know He will.