I know I talk of my parents often but bear with me, God is showing me things I need to hear and things I need to share.
Every family has it’s own dynamics and a unique personality, but no family should be defined by the trials and tribulations that befall them. There are good and there are bad moments, each come with a meaning and purpose. For some unfortunate families however, there are defining moments that alter the course that the family must now follow.
For me there were two things that changed forever the dynamics of our family. The first, my Mom was diagnosed with a devastating disease that ended her in a wheelchair never to walk again. The second was the equally devastating and debilitating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s that my Father received a few years later.
The significance of this was that it had many implications for my parents as my Father was the primary caretaker for my Mom when she could no longer walk. With my Dad’s diagnosis came the stark realization that our whole way of life would have to be rewritten in a way that involved caretakers for both of them. But let me stop here, you all know that story, I’ve written of it often. Something else is playing deep in my heart.
We must never, never let ourselves forget that before disease there was normal life. We tend to dwell on the situations that change our world in a bad way. But in this story what came before disease was life that changed and shaped my sister, my brother and myself in a good way. In fact, in a way that made us who we are.
Though life is vastly different now for our family, we handle the tough things because of the way our parents handled both the good and the bad things as we were growing up.
Nothing can wipe out what came before disease, nothing can alter the fact that they grounded us kids with ethics, morals, love of life and fellow man and they instilled deep inside us that cowboy spirit. Weakness of body cannot erase what they did for us. The years of 4-H we attended at their insistence, they said it instilled character in us. The sports we played in school with them in attendance at every game giving us a good dose of sportsmanship, the community/school Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations that included a community mean, not to mention awesome food fights in the restrooms.
Hosting more out of state pheasant hunters that I can count and never charging them a dime for the bed and huge meals Mom loved to cook showed us charity.
They would drive us clear across the state in the summer so we could spend time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, then come back and get us, which showed us the importance of family connections. There were always family gatherings at one grandparents house or another, which prompted more food fights in Grandma’s bedroom, which by the way my cousin ALWAYS started!
We helped Dad out by offering to hoe sugar beets in the hot sun (I remember lasting just about as long as it took him to drive away, then we ditched the work for the shade), we sold sweet corn on main street during the county fair and learned the value of money. We did our homework ourselves but if we ran into trouble Mom always told us where to look to figure it out.
Mom drove us 40 miles for an afternoon of swmming and ice cream at the then famous Sweet Shoppe, man they just don’t have ice cream places like than anymore.
Then our little sister Cindy came along and I guess they had her to teach us how to search for her when she decided to take her kitty for a walk, or maybe she was added to our family to teach us humility (or teach us how not to burst out laughing) when at 5 or 6 she called our Dad “an old bastard” Lets just say that was not her smartest move.
There are thousands of memories I could write here and my point is, these are the things to remember, these are the things to hide in your heart, these are the things to hold dear. Don’t let disease poison your memories of earlier times or moor you in present circumstances. Disease is powerful, in fact powerful enough to break us, but God is wise enough to give us wonderful memories of healthy days gone by that will sustain us as we trudge through the tough times.
…………………….and so I ride