We had a couple of wonderful weeks with Grandpa. He seemed as content as he could be. But yesterday, due to his lack of mobility, I saw a bit of impatience creep back into his spirit. He has a dream that he’s going to walk around the house all by himself.
I love him for wanting to, but it’s not going to happen. We have to be in the same room with him when he is at his walker with our hands on his safety belt. Rarely do we take our hands off of that belt. That may seem a little extreme, but there is a reason we are so vigilant.
Three years ago, my landlady fell and broke her hip. One Sunday morning, she was coming out of her bathroom with her walker when she tripped and fell in the hallway and broke her hip. She was never able to come back to the farm after that. I share this story with my dad every time he begins to try to to walk around the house by himself. He usually doesn’t get very far, and just a friendly reminder of our landlady’s woes and it is enough to bring him back to reality.
My dad has a fighting spirit and and at the age of 89 (almost 90), he’s one of the most self-motivated people I know, which is why he got a little “snippy” with me, yesterday when I tried to help him re-position himself in his wheelchair for the third time that day. If he doesn’t sit down just right, he leans way over to the side because of the curve of his spine.
We walked from his bedroom to the kitchen, my left hand holding his safety belt and my right hand pulling the wheelchair behind me, a safety measure he wanted in place, because somehow he lost confidence in me. I’m strong enough to catch him from going down, but he doesn’t want me to strain myself if he does. The problem is, he gets shaky just thinking about it and starts to wobble. Then, I have to tell him everything is okay, just keep coming forward or we’re going to have to start all over again.
When we got to the kitchen, I pushed the wheelchair behind him and he sat down to eat lunch, only he didn’t get positioned correctly. When I tried to help pull him up so we could scoot him over, he protested. “Now, let me do it! I don’t want you to hurt yourself!”
“I already have,” I murmured to myself as I popped his lunch into the microwave. I’ve had to take care of Grandpa all week long because Eric has been working over at the farm, bringing in the hay and helping Robert paint the house. I’ve felt a few more aches and pains helping him up and down this week and I was grumbling to myself about it.
“I’m sorry, I yelled.” he said. I think his so-called yell was pretty low on the decibel scale, a four maybe. It didn’t bother me.
“That’s okay dad.” I said.
Doesn’t it figure, that the one area I struggle with the most is the one that Grandpa is most anxious about? Becoming ambulatory is suddenly at the forefront of his thinking, but he picked the wrong day to try to achieve new goals. I was taking care of him all by myself and my limitations for lifting him only seemed to make him want to walk by himself all the more. Like it or not, when Eric isn’t here, Grandpa is stuck depending on his 53-year-old daughter who can’t lift his 160 pounds – comfortably, but does the best she can.
Ah, the vicissitudes of life for Grandpa and me.
The day Grandpa stops trying to meet his goals, he’ll either be bed-ridden or dead, and if I keep trying to meet them in my own strength, I will be too. I pray that I learn to depend more on God, daily, and look to Him for the strength I need to physically care of Grandpa.
“But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31