Falling Leaves

Working from home can be a blessing but it can be challenging as well. Today as I sit in my office working (or trying to) the leaves keep blowing out of our maple tree. Each flutter of breeze brings another cascade of gold and red and orange leaves flying just outside my window. It’s as if they are waving goodbye. And I suppose they are. Next spring they will be replaced with green buds and leaves will sprout again. Until then we must endure another winter. Another dying. Waiting for the warmth to return. Another opportunity to learn patience and embrace hopefulness.

I have another distraction today, too. After 20 years of faithful service; 20 years of accepting our cars coming and going, we are having our driveway replaced. The cracks were becoming unsightly and possibly a tripping hazard. Still, the old driveway was dependable and serviceable and welcomed us (or at least our vehicles) home on our many returns. I suppose it’s strange to consider our old driveway with such anthropomorphism but there were times when I felt like that driveway hugged us on our return home. Today begins a new chapter in our lives. A new driveway – straight and clean and ready (in 7-10 days) to welcome our vehicles (and us). More hopefulness for many more years of happy returns to this home that I love.

My mind is occupied with the leaves falling, the workmen outside, the temperatures dropping because I don’t want to think about what is really happening. My Dad is 95 years old and resides in an assisted-living retirement community, which is a euphemism for “old folks home”. He is in declining health. He has fallen a lot lately and he just returned to his apartment after nearly 2 weeks in the hospital because of pain from his latest fall. He was badly bruised but fortunately nothing was broken. While in the hospital he had pneumonia brought on by pulmonary aspiration. He’s back home for now but no one knows what lies ahead. More hopefulness is required. But I am struggling. Dad has always been a big man – literally and figuratively. 6 feet tall and still strong but growing weaker each day. Dad, always quick with a joke, the teller of tales and the life of the party is now often confused and his thoughts are getting cloudier, as his needs, both physically and emotionally, grow greater.

As I watch the leaves fall, I think about Dad falling. As they tumble to the ground gracefully, effortlessly, I pray that Dad’s eventual decline is gentle and peaceful. I want him to live another 5 years or 10 years but I know that’s not likely. He misses Mom. He longs to be reunited with her but I’m selfish and I want to hold on. Perhaps it’s my own mortality I fear. I’m so much like Dad in so many ways that seeing him this way is like staring into my future. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of losing him. I’m afraid of what lies ahead for both of us. Dad’s always been a fixer, a problem solver, a make-things-better guy. But Dad can’t fix this. And neither can I. Things will change but spring will come as it always does. And new life will emerge because hope is eternal.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. Romans 8:24-25

So now I pray for endurance for Dad (and for me).



Getting Well

Deb’s been in the hospital this week. She has acute pancreatitis. And I’m not a doctor but I can tell you this much: It hurts! She’s had this in the past (and has been hospitalized with it previously) so I consulted WebMD and now of course I can write with authority on her condition: It hurts and they (the real doctors) can’t do much for it. Often pancreatitis is linked to heavy drinking but Deb only has a glass of wine occasionally so something else is clearly causing this but the doctors don’t know what that cause is and therein lies the dilemma. Oh, and her numbers; they love to talk about her numbers – something should be 400 and hers was 3,000 and is now 800. And the 3,000 is why she hurts! Plus Deb doesn’t tolerate pain medication very well so basically she’s had to just (sort of) tough it out. And she’s a pretty tough cookie but it hurts!

The hospital staff (nurses and techs) have been great and last night Debbie started to seem like her old (young) self again. We were laughing because Anna (our almost three-year old granddaughter) upon hearing that her Nana was in the hospital with a sore belly, wanted to know if Nana was getting a baby. She said, “If Nana had a baby then she could be a Mommy, too!” I’ve tried to explain to her in the past that Nana is Mommy’s Mommy but apparently I’m not that convincing. Sorry Anna!

Debbie thinks she’s coming home today but she’s still on an I.V. and they just started giving her clear liquids yesterday so that may be a little optimistic. I want her home but I want her well, too. So I’m trying to be patient, which is a challenge to say the least. But if the patient can be patient so to the caregiver (in theory).

We have friends and family dealing with much worse medical conditions, so all things considered Deb has much to be thankful for. Still it’s hard to see her lying there and it’s frustrating that they can’t give her a definitive diagnosis. But she’s getting well and for that we thank God.

And we thank all of you for your prayers, words of encouragement, and good wishes.