Thursday, July 04, 2013

Caring for our fathers

A week ago two parishioners from Dulce Nombre de Maria parish stayed with me. We were leaving at 5:00 am the next day to go to San Pedro to get their passports so that they can apply for a visa for their “mission trip” to Iowa this fall.

As we sat around the table we began to talk about caring for elderly fathers. Two of us had cared for widowed fathers and one is caring for his ninety-year old father who recently lost his wife.

We reflected on the difficulties of this but we also told of the deep joys that this enabled us to do.

I shared a bit of my experience and how I was able to care for my Dad in the last years of his life. Not all are called to this, but it was a blessing for me.

About 1996, after Dad was hospitalized after a stroke about 1996 I was faced with a decision: Do I put Dad in a nursing home where he would be cared for or do I care for him at the apartment where he lived in Ames?

As I reflected on this, I remembered my experience on April 1, 1992, in a village of Suchitoto, El Salvador where I was visiting there as part of the Lenten mission. We stopped by a poor house and there was a bed-ridden older woman, presumably the grandmother, surrounded by family.

I remembered how this poor family cared for a sick parent and I also thought of someone I knew in Ames who cared for his ill mother for many years.

Their inspiration moved me to decide to place Dad in a nursing home for a month and then take him home. I took Dad out of the nursing home after a few weeks (since he was not happy there) and cared for him until his death in September 1999.

Dad and me about 1997

It was a hard task, but full of joy. It was a blessing, inspired by the poor and one that I could share with the poor. 

I've met and talked with both of my friends' fathers. I really need to visit the one who is still alive with an active mind, though it seems he's still mourning his wife, the love of his life.

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