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My dad is going through a tough time. He was in the hospital for a week and is now in a skilled nursing center. He doesn’t have one big thing wrong but a maddening variety of little things, both agonizing and painful. “His body is just wearing out,” is how my mom puts it.
It’s hard to know how to put this all in prayer. Pray for a miracle? Pray for complete healing? Pray that he’s comfortable and at peace? Dad’s lived a good life, 86 years of working, sailing, serving on a half-dozen different boards, hanging out with his family, traveling with his grandchildren. Of his deep spirituality I have no doubt. If you listened to just one of his long rambling graces at the dinner table you’d hear first-hand his relationship with God. (We came to call those all-inclusive prayers the "six o’clock news.")
I’m grateful for the phone calls and emails from my siblings and Mom. From two thousand miles away the reports come in: “He had a good day…he seemed a little down today…he ate a whole package of M&Ms…He walked down the hall today…he was in a lot of pain when the nurses got him dressed.” Soon I’m sure I will travel to California to see for myself, but everybody’s doing their best, a stream of visitors dropping by with cookies and talk and kisses on his forehead and maybe some advice for Mom on the crossword puzzle.
“It’s sad,” I said to Mom and she agreed, but she acts with her perennial good nature and optimism. “Maybe he’ll come home,” she says. He’s rallied before.
For the time being I choose words that Dad would have said as we gathered around the dinner table for a new installment of the six o’clock news: “Lord, be with your faithful servant. You know what he needs better than we could ever know.” Lord, be with Dad.