Ministering Angel

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Khalil Gibran, artist, poet, writer

I’ve watched you from afar
Leading your mother into church,
Folding her walker, setting it aside,
Then making sure she has a hymnal.

I’ve watched you from afar
And marveled at your inner strength,
And admired your patience and kindness
To the one who gave you of herself first.

I’ve watched you from afar
And wondered whether you ever get tired
Or bored or angry or sad or frustrated
At caring for an elderly woman with health issues.

I’ve watched you from afar,
Contemplating whether you still laugh and enjoy life.
Get together with friends, hoist a tall cold one,
Or merely exist, dreading each new day.

I’ve watched you from afar
And pondered how the caregiving role fell to you.
Whether you’re the only one or the best one
And whether you chose it or were selected.

I’ve watched you from afar
And asked myself if I could one day do what you do.
Or if it’s easier to shuttle our elderly off to facilities
Where professionals can provide “better” care for them.

I’ve watched you from afar
And whispered a prayer for your blessing.
God surely must have something special in mind
For someone who gives so much of themselves!

Note: This is basically a true account. In a church I used to attend, there was one “ministering angel” who regularly assisted her elderly parent, causing me to do a lot of wondering!

22 thoughts on “Ministering Angel

    • Aw, shoot, now you’ve got me blushing! I don’t think I’m anywhere near the poetess you are, my friend, but I’ll snap up any compliment I can get … and enjoy the good feeling all day long!

  1. As one who played that role for a decade or so, I can tell you: yes, there are times of being tired, bored, angry, sad, and frustrated. One of my best coping mechanisms? There were times, in the middle of “conversations,” that I’d think to myself, “I’m the adult in this room!”

    But I was committed to keeping Mom out of one of “those places.” Now, I have to do my best to keep myself out of one of those places, since there isn’t any family left to help me out. I eat my veggies and keep my fingers crossed!

    • Linda, you who’ve already trod this path are my heroes. I see so many of these “ministering angels” now that I’m looking for them, and I marvel at their patience. Perhaps some are better constituted than others to take on this task? If so, I’m not sure I rank in their company. I guess we all muddle through as best as we can, knowing that nothing lasts forever … and any meager attempts we might make at caring for our loved ones are better than tossing them in one of “those places” where they sure don’t want to be!

      Yes, I agree that taking care of oneself is crucial. I’m not convinced the coming generations relish the thought of caring for old mom and dad (perhaps we didn’t either, huh??!)

  2. There but by the grace of God, go we. I watched my Dad care almost 24-7 for my mother the last several years as her ability to do things for herself declined from arthritis complications. He’s an angel.

    • Aw, Barb, what a good dad you had! So often, it’s the wife who must care for her debilitated husband. I imagine parents applaud manifestations of compassion and tenderness in their daughters that they foolishly deny in their sons. That seems wrong on so many levels.

    • Thanks for empathizing, DD. It seems we’ve long had instances of the younger generation caring for their elderly parents. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided an institution would be better equipped for that. Then some of those places neglected their residents (or abused them), causing the elderly to refuse (if they were able) to be stuck there. As our population ages, I guess most of us will eventually face this dilemma.

  3. Wonderful, Debbie. I have often wondered these things as well. My own parents died when they were too young to require care. I have often said a prayer of strength for those in the scene you describe. Thanks.

  4. What a touchingly beautiful post, Debbie! The whole time I was reading this, I kept hearing the words “unconditional love” because this individual (you spoke of) seems to epitomize them. No doubt, the things you wondered is what most of us have wondered because after all, we’re human.

    I remember when my father was passing away and I drove from Central Florida to South Florida to be with him. On the drive down, I was petrified because I didn’t know how I would deal with seeing him wasting away from cancer. There was a part of me that just didn’t want to deal with it, yet once I got there and spent the last 9 days of his life with him, something kicked in and I embraced it. Oddly enough, it ended up being the most beautiful experience of my life. To sit with him, care for him, tell him all the things I never said to him. It was such a healing experience on so many different levels.

    Have a great rest of your week, my friend!

    • Ron, thank you for sharing this beautiful story about you and your dad. I imagine those nine days meant as much to him as they did to you! You know, none of us should let a day go by without our telling the ones we love how much they mean to us; sadly, most of us act as if we’ll all be here forever and there’s “plenty of time” for that sort of thing.

      Yes, unconditional love is what this woman exemplified. And she did it so well. I think I must have been in another line when patience and kindness were being handed out, ha!

      Happy week to you, dear! xx

    • Dawn, I suspect all of us feel that way. We established nursing homes so there would be a caring place for those we knew needed more care than we could give. The irritating thing is, some of those places are worse than any care even the most inept among us could provide!

  5. Euthanasia is the answer… 😉

    Sorry, couldn’t resist! More seriously, yes, it’s not an easy job – fortunately, I have a good brother who shared the responsibility with me, which is why we’re now so close, so good can come from it. Personally, and I know I’m in a minority on this one, I’d rather go into a home than be looked after by relatives. What I’d want my relatives to do is make sure the home was a good one.

  6. So beautiful, Debbie. Almost made me cry. I’m the caregiver for my 85-year-old mom who has heart failure and cancer diagnosis. It’s a hard thing, really tough emotionally, but we are getting through this thing one day at a time. Her spirits are good, I’m hoping one day that I’m half of the incredible person she is. Blessings.

    • Bless YOU, Lana, for caring for your mom! I know you’ll look back on this time with gratitude, no matter how hard it is in the present (at least, that’s what other caregivers have told me!). Your mom is fortunate that you’re able and willing to lend a hand. I’ll say a prayer for BOTH of you!

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