Until Tuesday of last week I had my sister-in-law, my daughter-in-law, and my 6 month and now 7 month old grandson in my home for a few weeks. It was joy to get to know and interact with my little grandson whom I previously had not seen since shortly after his birth. It was fun to see the new things he learned in just the few weeks he had been in my home. During that time he learned to roll over, to sit on his own and to move backwards. It is amazing how far a baby can move with just a combination of rolling and moving backwards. He also learned a few new words.
Babies are so much fun, but the truth of the matter is that they also involve a lot of work and care-giving. They need constant care and attention Also if they do not receive what they want on their timetable, they let you know it in no uncertain terms. My little grandson will still sometimes waken his Mom in the middle of night demanding playtime or comfort. Babies are wonderful when they turn on their charm and flash you a special smile like my sweet little grandson does. Yet they also require much attention and care. Yet parents (and grandparents) willingly give them this attention because of their love for them.
So what is the difference between the sometimes demanding care we give babies and children and the care family caregivers give their loved ones who are experiencing some disease or disability? There are many differences. With a normally developing baby we see them learning new skills and vocabulary. We are excited about these new developments in them. When we care for a loved one with a disease, we may see steady declines in ability to function in this world. This can be a source of heart ache for those who are caring for them. I know it was for me, as I watched my husband, Wayne, deteriorate step by step during those years that I was his caregiver.
There seems to be real purpose and joy in helping and watching babies and children reach their full potential and maturity. It is perhaps more difficult to find purpose and joy in caring for a loved one who is declining in his or her health. Yet family care-giving is the most important and significant job you may ever undertake, dear caregiver. You are adding joy, comfort, and dignity to the last days of your loved one's life. Who else can do that in the same way that you are doing it, dear caregiver? You are also showing to the world a picture of Christ-like sacrificial love. Yes, you are doing that even on the days when you feel you are failing and running out of patience, dear caregiver.
If you are a child of God another thing you are doing is preparing your loved one for Eternity. As I told you in a past post. I was able to spend the last few minutes of my Mom's life by her bedside. I sang hymns to her, talked to her, and read Scripture to her. Even though she did not noticeably respond, I believe I was helping prepare her for Eternity. I guess when I was taking care of my husband as his caregiver, however, I never really thought of that care as preparing him for Eternity. Yet upon reflection that is exactly what I was doing. It is exactly what you are doing as well, dear Christian caregiver. Christian caregivers with their sacrificial love are preparing their loved ones to be handed over to the caring and loving hands of their Savior in God's perfect timing. What could be more significant and important than that? Thank you for all that you do, dear caregiver!
Will you indulge me by letting me post a picture of my youngest grandson to which I referred in this post and also one of my husband and I in my husband's last months of his life? How my husband would have loved to have met this little one.