I love the following true story written by Janet Clark from Hunnington, Indiana. It truly is a story of the family of God taking care of the care-giver and the care-receiver.
Janet says, I noticed that my friend Agnes was sounding and looking increasingly heavy-hearted about her husband’s lack of social life since he became wheelchair-dependent. It finally occurred to me to just help his friends do what they probably wanted to do but didn’t know how to get started. I met with Agnes and developed a list of men with whom Bob had previously enjoyed a close relationship. We also made a short list of things that were doable, enjoyable and affordable. I then call the guys [about 12 of them] and explained the concerns about Bob’s daily living. Only one of them said he couldn’t commit to it. The others “adopted” one or more weeks over the next few months that they would be responsible to call Bob and make arrangements to share one of the following experiences with him: 1. Watch a ball game with him on TV [Agnes hated sports but recognized that it is more fun to share a game with another enthusiast] 2. Take him to a ball game. 3. Take him to breakfast, out for coffee, or out to lunch. 4. Take him out for a drive. 5. Anything else of mutual interest to Robert and his friend. Agnes and Robert have a wonderful ramp, and their van made it effortless to load Bob and his scooter.
This went on for several months. Bob loved it and the guys seemed to love it, also. Agnes loved it. All of a sudden Robert’s world was becoming larger again. Two people can grow a bit weary of each other when living within four walls. The third person removed some of those walls and let in some fresh air, along with some fresh ideas and information!
Eventually, some younger men got involved, and one of them asked Robert to mentor him. L.J. tells me how much richer his life is because of Robert’s mentoring. L. J. originally requested the mentoring relationship because Robert and Agnes have an adopted daughter (L. J. has five adopted children). Robert was the financial officer of two colleges (L.J. had just gotten into the life insurance business). Robert is a dedicated Christian (L.J. wanted an accountability partner). Talk about a mutual admiration partnership–these two were soon attached at the hip! My friend Agnes died suddenly in March. L. J. and his family got to the hospital almost as quickly as I did. L.J. bent over and held him as Robert cried into his chest.
Now, after all of that, I need to tell you how God has taken care of Robert since Agnes, his care-giver, is gone. Knowing Agnes was going beyond her physical limitations, she had finally given in to the urging of several of us to hire a nurse in our church to bathe Robert 2 or 3 times a week (most of this was paid for through bartering…Agnes tutoring her son). Lovingly, Lisa has continued this blessed service. Two weeks before Agnes’ fatal brain aneurism, a man in our congregation accepted an offer to move in with them. He has health issues that caused him to leave his job, and as a man in his mid-fifties, he had no income and little hopes of other work. They offered for him to make his home with them in exchange for companionship and light help with Robert. It has been a win-win situation. Ervin and Robert are like long-lost relatives. With the continuing help from the nurse, and yard work and “fix-its” by others of the congregation, Robert is able to live in his home while providing a home for Ervin. We are going to that home tonight for a cook-out. Lots of heart-break? Sure. But God’s provision has been obvious and abundant.
I had only a small part in all that God did and is doing, but it truly is a story of the family of God taking care of the care-giver and the care-receiver. Ten days before her death, Agnes and I had enjoyed a wonderful conversation about heaven.
Janet K. Clark
Director of Children’s Ministries College
Photo credit: Ze’ev Barkan