God’s Help Comes in Surprising Ways

God’s Help Comes in Surprising Ways January 24, 2017
Photo Source: Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.
Photo Source: Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

Mama is now famous. Her photo is right there, big and shiny, in the National Catholic Register.

Bless her bones, she keeps on keeping on. I spent most of yesterday afternoon with her. We went out for hotdogs and drinks at our favorite drive-in. Then, we went to the bank drive-through and then we went to the library.

Throughout the entire excursion, she prattled along, talking to me about everything we passed on the way. As usual, she told me, “We used to live here,” as we passed several neighborhoods and houses where we never, ever lived. Then, she tossed in, “We used to go swimming here,” as we drove past a spring-fed pond where, indeed, we used to go swimming.

She’s a treasure and a treat and a blessing. I love her so much it makes my bones ache. Every day with Mama is a gift.

I had to make one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made in my life after the cancer treatment got too much for me last year. But God, in His infinite kindness, has turned that tough decision into a blessing.

I wrote about all this for the National Catholic Register, which is how Mama became famous. I gave them a photo I took of Mama on one of our excursions to use with the article.

Here’s part of what I said:

Cancer is about more than the person who has cancer.

It’s also about the family and friends who gather around to support you through this illness, who walk with you and take care of you and, sometimes, hold your hand as you say that final good-bye. Cancer takes a toll on everyone. The unsung heroes of cancer are those the caretakers.

There is nothing easy about having a wife, husband, mother, father, son, daughter or friend with cancer. Not only are you stuck with taking care of them and adding the chores they did before they got sick to your already full list, you’ve got to face your own grief, fears of mortality and lostness; and you have to do it without the attention and support that is given to them.

Cancer is a tough bogie for everyone, not just the person who has the disease.

In my family, cancer was massively complicated by the fact that we were also caring for a 90-year-old two-year-old. My Mama, my sweet, wonderful Mama, had and has no idea that I was ever sick. She cruised through the early months of the diagnosis and treatment without picking up a thing, even though it was happening right in front of her.

In fact, she was sitting beside me in the car when the doc told me the pathology reports showed cancer. I had just picked her up from adult day care and was heading home when he called. I don’t know if it was a gray day, but I remember it that way. The doc and I talked back and forth on the speaker while she sat beside me and nattered on about the birds on top of the signal lights and the bright colors on the cars driving down the road beside us.

Not one word of it went into her addled brain, and for that I am profoundly grateful. One of the very real blessings of her dementia is that she did not have to suffer through what would have been the horrible knowledge that her baby had cancer. If she had known and understood her grief and worry would have been terrible. As it was, she never knew a thing.

That was the good part. The not-so-good part of caring for a 90-year-old baby with dementia was that she also gave no quarter to the burdens the rest of the family faced. (Read the rest here.)

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10 responses to “God’s Help Comes in Surprising Ways”

  1. God bless you for finding so much joy from your mother. Pope Francis talks about how important the elderly are and how we should appreciate them. Also, thanks for pointing out the sacrifices care givers make. When my wife had morning sickness I had to take care of her and do the cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids etc… I really did a poor job and didn’t handle the sacrifice well. At least internally, hopefully I gave a brave face. Anyway, I remember thinking that people that have sick spouses or relatives have huge sacrifices. Now when I pray for the sick I always also pray for their caregivers. I also try to reach out to those giving help and let them know that I’m praying for them and to try to offer aid. The caregivers are under a lot of stress and worry as well. Anyway, I’m rambling but thanks for the great posting and for putting the word out on caregivers they need our prayers and help too!

  2. Am so incredibly happy that your beautiful mother settled into her new home so quickly and is happy. I understand your original guilt, but she is obviously doing well, and it makes thing so much easier for you and your family. As you mentioned in the article, if she had been able to, she would have told you to do what was necessary given your health situation. You’re so lucky that you still have her, as you already know. Blessings.

  3. I knew- but before your cancer, I did not think you were in a place to hear it.

    My grandmother lived in such a place for the last few years of her life. I only ever saw two problems there- the first was a day when they accidentally left the syrup out and she went around drinking it (had debates-related dementia by that time), and the other was when one other dear old lady forgot her mail and batteries were NOT something to warm up for dinner in the microwave (causing the fire alarm to go off and the whole place to be evacuated)

  4. I am so relieve to learn your mother’s in a home and is happy. I too had been wondering. I’m also glad you’re back to writing.

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