Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What My Parents Taught Me from Their Hospital Beds - Part II

My Mom: Fashionable and Blessed as Ever

Yesterday I began a series of posts  inspired by my parents, who are both very ill right now. Their illnesses made for a tumultuous holiday season, but also blessed my sisters and me with some deep moments of reflection, conversation and heart-connection.

Some of those heart connections grew from relationships with aunts, uncles and cousins that I don't see very often, since I live far away in Conway, Arkansas. Some came from a collection of my parents' long-time friends-like-family, some of whom I haven't seen in years. And some of those heart connections were nurtured through daily conversations and moments with my parents. 

It is from those moments and conversations that I've gleaned all kinds of wisdom from my sweet, elderly parents.

Yesterday, I spoke of the first piece of wisdom, advice that's much older than even my parents. It comes from the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and reads, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."*

As my parents age, I'm understanding this command more than I ever have. And it is with honor and respect and love that I'm compelled to share even more wisdom from my precious folks. Which leads me to today's nugget...

"It's all birthday. Every day..."

My Dad's birthday is coming up really soon -- January 23rd. So one day my sister Lori, my Mom and I were hanging out, talking like we did everyday since she'd moved from ICU to a less intensive hospital room. I had come to cherish those conversations, especially since she'd been unable to talk just days before, due to her need for a respirator and heavy sedation.

So anyway... 

Lori said to my Mom, "Mommy, you know Daddy's birthday is coming up. Do you remember the date?" (We'd been testing her memory and wherewithal since she'd come out of ICU.)

My mother, in her new raspy, labored voice, said, "Yes. January 23rd."

"Yep, it is," Lori said. "So how should we celebrate Daddy's birthday this year?"

My mother paused, shook her head, and in a voice reminiscent of her Northumberland County, Virginia upbringing, said, "Child, at this stage of the game, it's all birthday. Every day. If I can look at him, and he can look at me, I'll take it."

Her words were precious to me on two levels. One was the longing to simply gaze at my Dad again, after they'd been in separate hospitals for weeks. (But more on that in another post...) The other was the value she's now placing on each and every day.

It's all birthday. Every day.

Her words dug deep into me. They made me assess my view of life - my "every day" perspective. Do I see everyday as a birthday? A day to be celebrated, cherished even? A day full of expectancy? A day to forget my healthy eating regiment and just eat the dang cake?

Or do I drag myself out of bed, wishing for just thirty more minutes of sleep, reciting my to-do list for the day?

On an average day, I'll probably have to admit to "B". Final answer.

After two full weeks in ICU, after the doctors told my father and sister to "think seriously about mortality", my mother is embracing life to its fullest - every single day. Who knows how many more days she has left? Only God knows.

But this I know. I want to live life as if every day is a birthday. A day to be celebrated, cherished. A day full of expectancy.

This is my hope and prayer.

I hope and pray the same for YOU.

* Exodus 20:12

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