The Caregiver’s Prayer

“I have to pray to be patient,” Mom says.

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Posted in , Aug 23, 2010

A woman's praying hands

Chalk this one up as a caregiver’s answered prayer.

I just spent some time with parents and it was revealing in many ways. My dad, as I’ve mentioned, suffers from a heavy burden of ailments that leave him in tremendous pain—arthritis, spinal stenosis, neuropathy and all the indignities of a body that’s giving up on him. We talk on the phone regularly but it’s hard from long distance to know how he’s doing. Mom’s the primary caregiver and I worry as much about her as I do about him.

“I’m fine,” she’ll say with the sunny temperament that is God’s greatest gift to her and one that illuminates everyone in her orbit. “The hardest thing for me is just to be patient.”   

She’s always moved through life at a vigorous clip and still plays a mean tennis game at age…well, I won’t say what age. In between tennis and bridge and meetings with her book group, she takes good care of Dad. “I have to pray to be patient,” she says. 

“That’ll be quite an achievement,” I tell her jokingly.

I was glad to be on hand for 10 days. I thought I’d be able to help. I hardly had a chance. Mom makes sure Dad gets up, takes his shower, helps him get dressed. She gets him breakfast, guides him through some physical therapy, gets him the newspaper, reads to him, and waits patiently as he slowly, ever so slowly gets in the car. I never heard that voice I knew from my childhood, “Come on, honey, hurry up.” I never heard a complaint, never even a long sigh. 

“Mom,” I said, “you do very well.”

“I do?” she said with surprise.

“Yes, I think your prayer has been answered.” I’m not even sure she knew which one. In the meanwhile I pray for the both of them, that Dad gets some relief from the pain and that the primary caregiver knows she’s got four kids who are ready at any moment to lend a hand.   

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