Have you ever said this to someone? I have never written it down before so it looks funny, but I know what it means. If you have done something kind for me and now I am trying to do something kind for you, you need to let me because, “turn about is fair play!”
For the three-plus years that my Mama lived with us we had care-givers in our home 24/7. At all times we had six women on our team. It. Was. A. Trip. I learned a lot from each of them; they knew what to doin ways that amazed me every day. The profession of care-taking is valuable and a God-send when you need it. We had women of all ages with various gifts and a wealth of experiences. In addition to the stories our own family produces, we also shared in the wild and crazy stories these women had in their lives and families! I could probably write a novel based on all the tales I heard! Mama out-lived two of her care-givers; a few came and went; most were with us for years. It was a roller coaster ride with some hilarious moments, a few near-disasters, lots of working through the tough stuff and figuring out how to make the best of everyday. Here are just a few memories; there is no way I could include all or mention everyone who graciously helped us.
The profession of care-giving is a God-send
Wanda is the first care-giver we had. She came to us when Mama was in rehab after a fall and surgery for a broken hip. She immediately jumped in and began to take care of things and make life good for Mama. She talked with her, took her to ride, got her laughing and made everyday fun. I was amazed to watch her watch Mama; it’s like she always knew ahead of time what Mama wanted or needed. Wanda brought in her friend Priscilla who also had great experience and treated Mama like a queen. Numerous times I would come home and find Priscilla washing Mama’s feet in warm water and giving her a wonderful foot and leg massage with lotion. She also took Mama to the beauty shop – which was a big deal and a request Mama made before she became ill. The little things mean a lot! Shonnie loved doing Mama’s make-up. I told her she could be a stylist and make-up artist if she ever decided to give up care-giving! Barbara was so much fun and amazing with an iron! JB still misses that. Our families have been friends forever and we shared lots of fun memories. Doris was on the evening shift and she gave Mama her dinner, created a calm environment, and made sure Mama was comfortable all night long. She also liked to cook and often brought Mama dinner from her own kitchen, especially if we were out of town. What a special treat and kind gesture of thoughtfulness.
But this blog is really about Wanda. Wanda was and is hilarious. She picked up on Mama’s quirkiness and funny ways of saying things and she began to say them herself. Occasionally I would hear Wanda saying, “Miss Margaret, are you feeling nervous, weak and jerky?” This was just one of Mama’s funny sayings. I came in one day to find Mama folding wash cloths. There were lots of them and as soon as she was finished Wanda took them and in a few minutes she gave them back to Mama, all messed up again to start over. As she explained to me, “it is good for her to keep using her hands.” Who knew? Wanda has a gift and I learned a lot from her. She has been giving care to people in need for years and years. Wanda loves her kids (and now grandkids) and she loves animals. She brought a little dog named Pearl to work a few times and Mama enjoyed holding her. I guess Wanda understood pet therapy before it became a “thing.”
Wanda talked with Mama all the time; she told her what was going on and she could get Mama to talking and especially to laughing. Wanda also had a few other elderly patients and she would entertain all of us with stories. When she had to quit working for us due to some health issues she still would come visit and Mama was always glad to see her. They definitely bonded in the time she was on our team. I was very aware how much Wanda cared for Mama and she could talk me off the cliff when things were going downhill and we did not know what to do. Wanda always had a good suggestion and words of comfort.
Now, here is the point…. My phone rang recently and it was Wanda — in tears, sobbing. She was driving back to Georgia from Tennessee where she had been visiting her parents. A few years ago her Daddy was diagnosed with alzheimer’s. His condition is worsening and Wanda is helping to take care of him. She asked me between sobs, “Shugie, why is it I can help others and stay calm and not get emotional, but I am falling apart trying to help my Daddy and my Mama?” I replied, “Wanda, you care for your patients so well, BUT, it is just different when it’s your Daddy. You will get through this, but it is hard.” We talked for quite a while and remembered some good times together. I reminded her how much she helped our family when we were struggling with Mama’s situation. Our conversation was interrupted when she announced, “Gotta go! State Patrol is pulling me over!” Oh, Wanda – you are hilarious and you still drive too fast! When she called back I was glad to hear a warning was delivered rather than a ticket – Wanda dodges the bullet.
You will get through this, but it is hard.
By the time we wrapped up our visit, she was feeling better and had a few new ideas on how to tackle some of the details regarding her extended family’s challenging situation. She thanked me for spending that time with her and helping her through a tough moment.
Thanks for calling, Wanda. It was my pleasure to listen and talk and encourage you, because “turn about is fair play.”
Thursday we had our Mom2Mom Christmas Celebration, concluding our meetings until January. Our lively group of 100+ young moms and 16 leaders meet each week addressing mom issues and offering encouragement, support, mentoring, friendship, and Godly influence. As we reflected over the first semester I reminded the girls that although our circumstances are different, we all share in the fact that “Life is tough ….. but God is good.” I wanted them to remember this as they walk through the next few busy weeks. Even as we focus on Jesus’ birth, God’s greatest gift to mankind, the tough stuff will still be looming around each of our lives. I had no idea how quickly the tough stuff would show up.
Life is tough . . . but God is good.
Fast forward – here I am two days later, sitting in ICU at Grady Hospital in Atlanta with Martha, my dear friend and co-director of M2M. Martha has five sisters – you heard me right – FIVE. Jane, closest in age to Martha, had a stroke yesterday morning. The irony is that she was in spin class at the gym. Jane is a nurse, a very fit person with good “numbers” and she does all the right things to take care of her health. In spite of all that, Jane had a stroke. She was paralyzed on one side. Martha made a few calls and asked us all to pray. Fortunately Jane was airlifted from Athens to Grady in Atlanta where they did some procedure and we got the miracle for which we prayed. Her feeling has come back and the last MRI shows very minor damage. The nurse acknowledges this is a miracle and not the usual outcome. Hearts of family and friends are overflowing. Jane should have a full recovery. Thank you God.
So it is 12/5/15 today, and my next week includes a party at our house tomorrow, a party at our house on Tuesday evening, and a luncheon at our house on Thursday. Thursday evening JB and I will fly to Texas to visit our son, Rob, so all the gifts that require mailing must be sent before we leave along with the Christmas cards that are not yet addressed.
While sitting in my chair early this morning drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and making lists, I clearly felt God’s prompt to contact Martha and offer to drive her to Grady today. It would have been easy to talk myself out of it given the paragraph above, BUT I remembered . . .
I remembered. . .
Several years ago Rob had a terrible accident due to a seizure and was in the hospital in Birmingham. It was a scary time for our family. Looking down the hall on Day 2 I saw Jane (yes, the same Jane) and Charlotte (another sister who lives in Birmingham) coming to visit me and bring lunch. Who has time to do things like this? Martha is the one I am closest to but I am sure she asked her sisters to show up for me and they did. I will never forget it.
Who has time to do things like this?
I also remembered that when my Mama died last year, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Martha showed up at my house. She stayed with me most of the day and when there was a lull in the plans being made, we planted pansies into pots on my back deck. That was a gift of time and love.
Today I am delighted to be chauffeur and sidekick to my buddy, Martha. Of course I am glad to see Jane with my own eyes and assure her of my continued prayers. But I am content to just sit here in the waiting room and give Martha time to talk with her sister, help her with make-up and hair and respond to all her phone calls and texts. The things that could have kept me at home today will all get done. If I had stayed home, this day would have had no special significance; it just would have faded in my memory. I’m so glad to have followed God’s prompt and stepped up to show up.
A little while ago Martha and I sat together and read the devotional materials we each brought. I got tickled as I started my reading for 12/5. It began with the verse, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things!” (I promise I am not making this up!) When we each finished our readings we shared them with each other. She gave me Janet Denison’s “Season of Miracles” advent devotional. The 12/5 reading dealt with miracles. Like the other devotional, it was so relevant, especially since we have witnessed this miracle with Jane. I love it when God reminds us of his presence and care for the very details of our lives through things like the “coincidence” of our devotional readings today! While we know that God does not answer every prayer the way we would like, sometimes he does and that is time for rejoicing.
Today I am praising God for the miracle we are seeing in Jane. And I am so glad he prompted me to show up. Making memories with our dearest friends happens in the fun, happy experiences we share and also in the hardest, scariest moments.
Perhaps God is reminding you to make something right with a family member or friend. Maybe you know you need to go help someone but you can easily talk yourself out of it. If the situation is awkward or uncomfortable or inconvenient you may be filled with the idea of “I don’t have time and I just don’t know what to say.” Here is my advice to you:
Just show up!
Just show up! God will take care of the rest and the blessing, peace and joy that comes from following God’s prompts are gifts that cannot be bought.
At the beginning of this year I made fresh commitment to some things I wanted to do better. For too many years I have just let the days and weeks and months pass by, always postponing or making excuses for rarely finding time for things I claimed to be important. This book title has always haunted me, “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going You Will Probably End Up Somewhere Else.” Will that be me?
The three things I felt compelled to focus on this year were walking, writing, and working on relationships. I would love to tell you about great strides in all three areas, but that is not the case. However, it is never to late to get started or get back on track.
Working on relationships has included some memorable experiences this year. I started the year off with a bang, driving to Tallahassee to see a long-time friend and getting to visit with her and most of her siblings as they gathered to celebrate her mother’s 95th birthday! When she invited me to come, my immediate response was, “thanks, but I can’t come.” Immediately I remembered my desire to work on relationships and admitted, “there is no reason I can’t go and this is just the type opportunity I need to grasp.” It was a great trip and I’m so glad I went! A cousin from California and her husband were in our area and they came to our house for a meal. A friend of our son (Rob), along with another guy were on a road trip and needed a place to stay. Jake posted on FB asking if anyone knew where they could spend the night, and of course Rob called and asked us to take them in. It was such fun to have these two young men in our home for a short visit! I drove two of my older lady mentors and friends to Montgomery to have lunch and visit with our dear friend and former pastor’s wife. I went to Atlanta to celebrate the 90th birthday of a woman who was my boss at one time, and had a ball renewing friendships with co-workers and friends from my single days ages ago. I made lists and called friends to catch up and had lunch with several. AND THIS WAS ALL IN JANUARY!
those are the days I remember
Working on relationships takes effort and initiative and it is easy to put off, put off, put off. As the year continued I slacked off from pursuing these opportunities as intently, but as I look back those are the days I remember; these visits have enriched my life. This summer I went on a girls’ trip with three friends to celebrate a big birthday. We were gone a week and the things we did, memories we made, and heart conversations we shared will stay with me forever. What would I have been doing that week if I had not gone? Probably not much, and certainly not anything so meaningful. Not too long ago a girl from my high school class invited me and others from our class to lunch in her home. I had not seen some of these girls since the night we graduated! It was a sweet time and I hope to spend more time with these girls in the days ahead. Again, I almost said, “thanks, but no – sorry I can’t come,” but I’m so glad I went!
Now, my update on walking. The good news is that I went to walk this morning! But that has not been my regular routine throughout this year. I have been pitiful and disappointing in this area. At least I still remember that I declared it was important and that taking care of my health is a desired priority. As I say to others in encouraging them to start over or renew a commitment I will now say to myself, “it’s never too late to get back up on that horse!” Hopefully more discipline in this area will be cultivated. Whatever age you are, you are getting older every day, and the choices you make now will determine to a large extent the health you will have one day down the road. I used to wonder what was wrong with all those older people who complained, “my hip hurts, my knee hurts, something terrible has happened to my hair, my skin looks weird, I can’t lose weight like I used to, that music is too loud, I’m so uptight and anxious, etc.” Well….. I. am. starting. to. understand. those. old. people.
I. Am. Starting. To. Understand. Old. People.
Walking, or some other form of exercise, helps lessen anxiety, clears the mind, improves focus, increases metabolism, helps joints, improves moods, and just makes you feel better because you did it! Every year my doctor asks,” Are you exercising? It is really important.” My answer usually is, “I’m trying.” That’s pitiful. Truth is, laziness wins out with me too often. I need to apply the challenge I offer others all the time – Do Right Because It Is Right Until It Feels Right. Enough said.
Do right because it is right until it feels right.
Writing — again I hope that it is never too late to start over with something you feel called to do. At the beginning of the year I admitted my desire to write but my commitment has been slack. This past week I attended Women’s Forum in Nashville, an event our daughter, Mary Margaret, helps to plan and carry out. The speakers, music, break-out sessions were all life- changing and life-challenging to the almost 1000 women who attended. We were reminded Who God is and what He has done for us and for all humanity. We were encouraged to recognize that we are all leaders, people of influence, and that God has a purpose for each of our lives. We were challenged to figure out what God has called us to do and to do it! He is a great big God, his story includes us, and his Word, the Bible, is the source for every need.
So here we are in November – most of the year is gone, but we can still start today to do those things that are most important. What will that look like for you? I hope to make new friends and cultivate the ones I have had for years. I want to walk and take better care of my health in order to be active and able to participate in things the rest of my life. And I want to write – to use my words to encourage, support, and help others. This is the calling God has given me and I want to use it for his purpose and his glory.