Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dependently independent

8:15 p.m. Today's project was to lead my discussion group at the first session of the Tuesday morning women's study at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley.

Steve and I got up by 6 a.m., to be ready for our caregiver's slated arrival time of 8:30. As a group leader, I planned to be at church by 9:00, half an hour before the attending ladies were to arrive. The morning began with really bad pain in my leg upon waking, and back pain with it. I'd been getting better, but of course, this was a day to serve and minister to God's women, and the devil doesn't appreciate that! At least, praise the Lord, I woke up only a moment before my alarm went off, so I'd slept through the night. Sounds like I'm reporting on a small baby, doesn't it? But God was faithful. Psalm 127:2 says: "For so He gives His beloved sleep."

Devotions were very sweet this morning, and our breakfast routine went smoothly. Steve laid hands on me while I prayed verbally, and he agreed silently, for my back and leg pain to desist.I just now reflected on one of God's greatest gifts to me--a praying husband, even if he struggles to articulate the words. God hears even silence.

8:30 came and went--no surprise there, since it was a Bible study day. I called the agency to see what the caregiver's ETA was, and she called me back to say 10-15 minutes. GRRRREAT! Ugh. Could I at least get there on time the first day? Apparently not. I finally was able to leave at 8:55. Highway 60 east was flowing well, so I arrived at 9:15.

Whenever I get aggravated over depending on others' timing and schedules, or the traffic they face, I am reminded of what Jesus said to Peter about his later years (and eventual death) in John 21: 18 (NLT):

I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don't want to go.

Steve is rapidly approaching this stage of dependence even though he is only 56. Increasingly, he gets confused by his shirts, especially pullover knit golf shirts with collars. He just can't figure out the right direction to turn the shirt to Button-up shirts are simpler, because it's obvious that buttons are in the front. Sadly, I've found that he's tried to avert confusion by slipping off a buttoned shirt over his head and trying to hang it up for next time. If the shirt smells clean, I'm up for a repeat wearing. If not, it goes into the hamper.

He is not alone in the shift to dependence being made here. Just like it is stated in John 21:18, I too used to just go wherever I wanted to, hopping in the car and running errands, doing ministry or socializing. I could tell Steve I was going on a walk, and just go out the door. Until a couple of months ago, I felt free to keep facial and party appointments for my Mary Kay business, with one of the kids coming over, or a caregiver, or Steve could just be here for a couple of hours. Now because of his confusion, all must be planned out in advance, coordinated with others, and the fun spontaneity of my business, where I could pop over to someone's house with a product or samples, or a hostess party packet, is almost past. I definitely have to allow time for Steve to get ready to go along; only then can I run over to a customer's place. The same goes for banking and grocery shopping. I do occasionally walk across the street or a few doors down by myself to visit neighbors briefly, but I make sure Steve stays in the house.

One of the strengths of our marriage has always been a measure of independence for both of us. If Steve had to work six days a week, I just managed the house and kids by myself an extra day. When I went to grad school during the kids' middle and high school years, Steve managed the house and kids a few evenings a week. (He'd gotten used to my absences on a small scale with PTA and twice-monthly school board meetings). It wasn't easy for either of us, but we respected what needed to be done when the time came to get it done! We always knew the Lord had goals and plans for our family, we'd lifted all incipient ventures to the Lord, and we didn't begrudge doing our part in support of each other.

Our stage of life now, arriving with Steve's early-onset Alzheimer's, is a call to another kind of interdependence. I'm retired so I can meet his needs as they evolve. He's here providing loving companionship and time for me to do something I never would have attempted while a career professional--writing my book, Galatians. There's a difference, though-- I need help a few times a week to help him. and he needs help in doing his household projects that only other men can provide--whether caregivers or volunteering family and friends.

The pastor who married us, Tim Weeks, once very positively described Steve's and my marriage, and me in particular as "dependently independent." I like that. In other words, 2 married individuals= 1 flesh!

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful. I love my husband's prayers at night: "Dear LORD, thanks for a really good day, even though I don't remember what happened."