Father Knows Best

My Father always told me, ‘Hindsight is 20/20.’ He was right.

He also told me that when God says in His Word, He will provide all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, He would do it. {Philippians 4:19} He was right about that too.

 

Sixteen years ago, my Father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a disease that claimed the lives of his mother and grandfather.

 

Sixteen years ago, a handful of people with big hearts and an even bigger dream formed Grace Arbor, a congregational respite program for people with memory problems. It would be another 5 years before our family was introduced to this phenomenal, life-saving program.

 

In 2010, you couldn’t really tell that my Father had Alzheimer’s. He was such a social butterfly that if he slipped up in a conversation, he would just tell a joke. “My tongue got wrapped around my eye tooth and I can’t see what I’m saying!”

But we knew my Father well enough to know he needed help. We needed help. We learned about Grace Arbor and brought Dad to what would become his second family. He loved it. He loved gabbing with the guys over coffee, discussing the Bible in devotions, working on projects with his hands, playing games with the group. But his favorite thing was the music. He’d played guitar in his younger days and even cut a record with his sisters. So when the music started at Grace Arbor in the afternoons, my Father would stand up and make a beeline to the piano or guitar. He was the self-appointed percussion section. He would use sticks or handclaps to keep rhythm and frequently do double-time. Whenever Kevin played Hound Dog by Elvis on the piano, my Dad would bark. If a guest band came to play, he would walk up to them afterward and try to join.

But just as important as the Grace Arbor activities were, so too were the staff and army of volunteers. They are the most loving, patient people I’ve ever seen around this disease. They hugged my Dad. They laughed at his jokes. They listened to his Air Force stories, no matter how many times he told them.

But they also loved on us as caregivers. They asked how we were and prayed over us. One volunteer in particular gave the most amazing hugs. There was no time limit on them. She wouldn’t pull away after a few seconds. She’d hug you until the tears started to flow or the stress left your body.

 

One day my Father was having a mild heart attack while I dropped him off at Grace Arbor. As a caregiver, I was so stressed and exhausted that I didn’t realize what was happening. But the director knew and thanks to her, I took Dad to urgent care. This began weeks of testing and six heart stents. It would be months before Dad could return to his second family. I remember the day I brought him back and dropped him off. I sat in my car and felt like a 50-lb. weight had been lifted from my chest as I realized this was the first time in months someone else was caring for my Father besides myself or my Mother.

 

Grace Arbor kept my Father young. It kept him spiritually, mentally and physically engaged. It kept his neurons firing and his social skills finely tuned. It kept him active and nourished his soul.

Hindsight is 20/20. It is abundantly clear that God provided Grace Arbor to meet our family’s needs for ten years. But He didn’t stop there. He is able – and willing – to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for, hope for or imagine. {Ephesians 3:20}

 

In March, we moved Dad to an award-winning facility that provides excellent care. And guess who visits twice a month to play the piano for the residents? Kevin, who’s played and sung with Dad for a decade.

God is good! He is for us, not against us. And He will provide for your family, just as He’s provided for mine.

If you’re looking for an adult respite program in your area or if you’re interested in starting one at your church, contact Grace Arbor Founder Robin Dill robin.dill@comcast.net for more information or pick up her book Walking with Grace Revised ~ Tools for Implementing and Launching a Congregational Respite Program.

4 thoughts on “Father Knows Best”

  1. Angie, thank you for sharing this with the church last Sunday, and now online. Jack and your family hold special places in our hearts. Thank you for sharing your dad with us at Grace Arbor. We’ve learned so much about life, love, and God from him.

    1. It was wonderful to see you Sunday!! I know I’m biased, but my Dad is one special guy. ? So grateful for all the years he had at Grace Arbor!

  2. It was so nice to meet you on Sunday at FUMCLV! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, so eloquently spoken and written, about your dad and our Grace Arbor family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *