For Shoulder to Shoulder’s final post in the INSPIRE: Navigating Relationships series, we interviewed Brookstone member, Lily Lane. She is like many adult children who have found themselves needed by both their own young families and their aging parents. Today, she shares her experience and insight and how Christ enables her to serve well.
S2S: As several at Brookstone can attest, you have had a pretty close relationship with your mom and dad. Was this always so?
Lily: Yes, as the youngest of three, I always had a very close relationship with both of my parents. There were times though, we didn't agree on everything. But at the end of the day, I knew in my heart how much they loved and cared for me. As I grew older, got married and had children of my own, I discovered a new side of the word "love" and could understand better my wonderful parents. I respected them more, admired them more, and fell in love with the way they became grandparents to my children. It was a joy to watch and still is with my Mom.
S2S: In what ways have you been able to care for your parents?
Lily: My sweet parents didn’t speak that much English when they moved to the States twenty-two years ago. I always helped them by translating a few of their appointments. My dad's health took a big turn twelve years ago when he was put on dialysis and had heart surgery. I had to take control of every appointment, every medication, insurance, arranging transportation, phone calls to social workers, etc. At that time, that part was still easy and manageable; he was still able to drive, and life went on, praise Jesus!! We enjoyed many beautiful years together. They got to meet many of our sweet friends in Lifegroup, at birthdays, showers, and special events, and they loved them. Now the real challenge for me and our family started almost a year before my dad passed away. In a matter of weeks, he became almost unable to walk or take care of himself. He was in constant pain. When he was hospitalized for weeks at the time, it wasn't easy. My sister, my mom, and I would take turns staying day and night with him during hospitalizations. It wasn’t easy to watch my mom while Dad was going through his last days at Hospice. I tried to be there for her while her husband of sixty years was getting ready to meet his Savior. Where did I go when I felt spent? My only refuge was in Him, my sustainer. I had to praise Him in the midst of everything and to know that we are in His hands. He is our only hope. I know we'll see my sweet dad again. He isn’t suffering anymore; his pain is gone. I thank you, Jesus!
S2S: Your dad is greatly missed, and of those he left behind are your two children. How were they a part of this process? Has your husband, Mike, been involved?
Lily: My children and Mike were a great support for me while taking care of my dad. They loved to come see him at the hospital or his rehab site, to bake cookies for him, to color pictures - just to be there with him. It was encouraging for him. Mike traded our smaller car for a larger van, so we could easily transport my dad. He would show so much love and patience with my dad, walking him, talking to him, praying for him; he still shows it with my mom.
S2S: It takes a lot of extra planning and time to care not only for your husband and children but also for those outside of your immediate home. We have to go somewhere to be rejuvenated when we feel spent from all the demands. What has been especially encouraging to you?
Lily: A Bible passage that moved and encouraged me when some days were difficult is found in John 19:26. Jesus is on the cross and in the midst of all His agony and the suffering of that day, He took the time to make sure His dear mom was taken care of. So in the middle of my busy and challenging day, I liked to remember the sweet example of Jesus.
S2S: Are there any words of encouragement you could pass on to those who are about to go down this journey of care taking with their own parents?
Lily: I know we all have different kinds of relationships with our parents. I can only describe to you mine and what I went through when the time came to take care of my aging Dad. I encourage you, when the day comes, and you have to walk through life changes with your parents, please make your response I want to do it and not I have to do it. God will give you strength. In Philippians 4:13 we read,
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
S2S: Thank you, Lily, for beautifully demonstrating how to live out Christ’s teaching within our relationships and for the reminder of Christ’s example. We will go through difficulties in relationships, but with God enabling us through his Spirit, we can navigate them to his glory. You and your family are a blessing to Brookstone!