For Better or Worse
By: Teresa Quiring

My husband's father passed away recently from complications of Parkinson's Disease. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's eight years ago. We watched as his health very gradually deteriorated until his demise last week.

At first we noticed only slight physical symptoms; weakness, slow movements, slight tremors. Then we noticed the dementia, forgetfulness and moments where he would "freeze" and not be able to move or speak. My mother-in-law very faithfully took care of him as best she could until her own health began to suffer and she couldn't lift him out of bed or assist him out of a chair. Two and a half years ago the decision was made to put him in a nursing home one mile from their home in Dallas, Oregon. Twice every day during this time, Mom would walk or drive up to the Care Center and spend about six hours taking care of him, wiping his face, brushing his teeth, walking him when he could still walk, talking to him and telling him of days' events, feeding him Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice-cream when he could no longer eat food or drink water.

We knew Dad was failing and that ultimately he was Heaven Bound. We worried about Mom; she was losing weight and having some physical problems. But we knew we couldn't tell her to stop going to the Care Center to take care of Dad. He was her husband and she took her marriage vows very seriously.

When Mom married Dad, she vowed to be with him through sickness and health. The first 38 years of their marriage Dad was very healthy and strong. They looked forward to retiring and traveling. When Dad was diagnosed, they took several trips in the first couple of years. After that, it was apparent that Dad could no longer handle traveling and they stayed close to home. Eventually they quit going to church because some people laughed at him when he drooled uncontrollably. Dementia began to kick in. He would hallucinate and imagine all kinds of wild things. He went to his last family get-to-gather three summers ago. And finally, in November of 2000 he went to the Care Center. All during this time Mom was there at his side taking care of him and making sure he was as comfortable as possible.

Now Dad is in Heaven and free from the prison of his disease riddled body. But he left behind a wonderful, warm, loving, committed, grieving wife. Mom stuck with him through thick and thin. The journey the Lord placed them on was certainly not an easy road, but they continued faithfully and quietly to the very end. Many times it was a painful journey, but there were also pockets of unexpected joy. Since Mom was up at the Care Center so much, she became known to all the workers, especially in the Alzheimer's Wing where Dad was situated. The girls who worked there saw Mom's daily faithfulness. They saw Dad's infectious smile. Apparently Dad became an instant favorite among the girls because of his sweet nature. They saw Jesus through the lives of these two special people.

The workers saw how well Mom took care of Dad and began to ask her if she could help do for the others what she was doing for Dad. She very wisely turned them down so that she could spend all of her time with Dad. She knew that it would become very overwhelming if she did for others wheat she knew she must do for her husband. Now it is over and she has a new journey to begin. Having taken care of Dad for so long, she now knows what it is like to have a need, and not have it met. When things calm down for her a bit and she gets some much-needed physical and emotional rest she plans to start helping others who are in the situation she so recently was herself. Now she will have time to help.

Last week we were in Dallas helping Mom with getting ready for Dad's memorial service. We saw a lot of friends and family that we hadn't seen in a long while. It was bittersweet. It was very good to connect with various family members. Many conversations were held over the ensuing days. The trip back to Bend gave us time to regroup and sort through all the different emotions and conversations.

This week we are back to work, homeschool and normal life in general. Back to living out our convictions as a homeschool family that sticks together no matter what. Our commitment to homeschool is no different than my mother-in-law's commitment to her husband. When the going go tough, she stuck it out with the help of her Heavenly Father. We have tough days as homeschoolers, but with the help of our Heavenly Father we have gotten through many rough spots, and our journey is not done yet. While in Dallas we were surrounded by people with a different mindset that we have. Now that our oldest son is a graduating senior it seems to be natural to everybody else that he attend college. However, that does not seem to be God's plan right at this moment. Perhaps later, just no right now. I've noticed that our brains tell us one thing, but deep in our hearts we know another thing. Our brains tell us that every kid should go to college. Our hearts tell us, it may not be God's plan for our child. Our brains tell us our kids should be in a youth group. Our hearts tell us that peer-segregated groups are not the best environment for our impressionable teen age youths. Our brains tell us that we should be involved in lots of activities to turn out well-rounded kids. Our hearts tell us to concentrate on one or two activities and to learn to do them well. Our brains tell us many things. But we must leart to listen to what God has placed in our hearts. We may not like the picture God paints for us, it may be different than we imagined. But God know what He is doing and know the bigger picture. We have got to trust in Him. Even if we're not sure about the direction He is pointing us. God never said the journey would be easy. But He did promise to help us, as long as we make the decision to be obedient to Him.

We don't need to fill our days with many activities. There will be time for that later when the kids are grown and gone. For now we must stick to our commitment that God has placed in our hearts and trust Him to give us strength to finish the journey He has marked out for us.

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