As autumn's golden yield
Fills my heart with cheer,
The harvest of a happy heart
Is my reward for one more year.
by Karen Treharne
We drove into the parking area of the fifth nursing home facility we'd visited so far. It was late Saturday afternoon on a surprisingly warm April day, and we were all discouraged from what was proving to be an unrewarding search for a suitable place.
My 84-year-old mother had recently been told by her heart specialist that she could no longer live by herself. We begged and pleaded with her to let us care for her, but she was stubborn and determined. "I will not be a burden to your family, and that's final."
That's when the hunt began.
Ken's eyes silently beseeched mine, "Why don't you two go without me this time? I'd rather stay in the car if you don't mind."
I knew that since the death of his grandmother, my husband found hospitals and their facsimiles uncomfortable and depressing. Actually none of us appreciated the overpowering "bathroom" smells we had encountered so far, or the sight of elderly residents slumped over in their wheelchairs along the hallways; staring vacantly at the floor with gaping mouths.
"That's fine, honey." I assured my husband. "We won't be too long."
Mom and I walked arm-in-arm up the sidewalk, taking our time and stopping every few feet so mom's lungs could catch up.
"You know," I offered in a mournful tone of voice. "We haven't seen any place that was halfway appealing. And truthfully, Mom, I just can't bear to look at any more, much less agree to move you into one."
As I looked down over the top of her silver-streaked hair, I saw tears rippling down her furrowed cheek. She smiled weakly as she squeezed my arm with her arthritic hand. "Thank you, Kay. These haven't been at all what I had in mind either and we're probably not going to find anything decent. Let's just call it quits, and tomorrow we'll get my things packed so I can go home with you and Ken."
Unfortunately, mother suffered from chest pains that night and was admitted to a hospital. She lived three more days before passing into the loving arms of our Father. It was Easter week and I thanked God that because Jesus had died for our sins and was living in heaven, I was able to know for sure that my mother was now in heaven with Him too.
Spring and summer seemed to fly by. Then suddenly in September, Ken's father, Ed, called to say that he was no longer able to live by himself without help.
When Ken asked me what I thought about having dad come to live with us, I winged a prayer to heaven and thanked God for this opportunity to serve and bless my husband. Because of Ken’s loving and compassionate willingness to allow my mother to live with us in her time of need, I found it a very easy decision to make. Without hesitation I agreed to care for his father in our home.
The Holy Spirit had spoken to my husband’s heart earlier that year when he had been so willing to care for my mother in our home. Now, several months later, the fruit from his choice to respect and honor his mother-in-law and me, was being realized with a harvest from his wife of readiness to support him in his desire to be a respectful and obedient son.
By our example, we in turn are planting seed in the hearts of our children and grandchildren, which we pray God will bless and bring to full growth in His time and for His purpose, leaving a legacy that will last for eternity.
A Family Prayer
Lord, during this harvest season, may we relate with thoughtfulness and caring for each other.
May we respect the wisdom of our elders and the insight of our children.
May we pay attention to each other’s comfort and happiness, according to your will.
May we put our family's interests above our own.
May this fall, with all its majesty and glory, inspire us to plant more seeds of trust, grow stronger in our faith and produce a more abundant crop of spirit-filled blessings for the loved ones around us. Amen.
Karen Treharne is the author of "Women Wearing the Baggy Pants", a newspaper article about clowns, and a soon-to-be published story, "Prom Night", in one of the FaithWriters’ quarterly books. Karen and her husband have two sons, one daughter, and three granddaughters. They live in "God's Country", the Pacific Northwest, in Tacoma, Washington. Please feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
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