I should be dead, but I’m not.
I should be a forty something-year-old in a nursing home, but I’m not.
I should be miserable, but I’m not.
The reason for each of these statements can be summed up with one word: love.
I have been loved into being by God, and the love of my family, along with my own love for life, have kept me living here on God’s lovingly created Earth well beyond the medically predicted years, full of wonder, thanksgiving, and joy. Because of my parents’ great ability to love, they willingly give of themselves in order to take care of me in our house, allowing me to live the best that I can live.
My mother made great sacrifices for most of my life as my main caregiver, even though her own body wasn’t in the best of shape, to say the least. As she has aged, she has become much weaker in physical strength. So now my father, who always had the night duties, has become the one to do my chest percussion therapy (to improve respiratory function) and to lift me for transfers from wheelchair to bed, bed to wheelchair. In the beginning, when I was young, people told my mother that she shouldn’t let my father take care of me too much. “You don’t want him to leave,” they would say.
Isn’t that interesting?
“Men leave.” Why? I can’t answer that question, because I don’t know that kind of a man. The man that I know, my father, wouldn’t leave. Won’t leave. Because he loves. Because he gives. And, yes, perhaps because he is healthy enough to be affected by guilt. He has a healthy conscience and so it remains a good conscience, a clean conscience. He has done right as a father. He is continuing to do right as my dad, even after all of these years, even after open-heart surgery and a total hip replacement. God bless my dad.
I wish that I didn’t have to be cared for by my parents, mostly for my parents’ sake, but for mine too, of course. Home Health Aides have been helping to shoulder some of the burden, and their presence in our lives has increased lately. I wonder what it would be like if nonfamily members always came in to do my care and all I did was cohabitate with my mother and father in our home. Sounds kind of weird to me. I’m so used to them being my caregivers, I don’t know what it would be like for them to simply be mom and dad to me, a grown woman.
I feel like I will forever be their child, and yes, I understand the sadness, the difficulty, the tedious burden of that, but there is also something…so incredibly beautiful…noble even, maybe holy. They are keepers of a sacred trust. That trust is love. It’s like they have been asked, “Will you love your child forever, not only as your offspring, your daughter for whom you have affection, but as a little human being in need of constant care, in need of your lifelong sacrifice?” And they have answered yes. My mother didn’t leave. My father didn’t leave. And I’m grateful to God that He has allowed me to have them in my life, not only as parents and caregivers, but as amazingly beautiful people who keep the sacred trust of love.
As Father’s Day approaches, I express to the world (well, at least to you, my dear reader) that I am undyingly grateful for my dad. Daddy, I love you. May you enjoy your newly gained free time and remember that I wouldn’t be here without you and Mama. And it is good to be here.
© 2019 Christina Chase
PS. I made a video for my dad that you can watch on my YouTube channel. It shows what I’m willing to do, how I’m even willing to make a fool out of myself in public — for love.
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.