None of us knows what the future holds. None of us except One.
Three months ago, Mom and I had reached the end of our emotional rope in caring for my Father. We were desperate for respite and had a gut-wrenching decision to make. If we were to truly have a break, we would need to place Dad in a nursing home for a few days. We did our research, toured a couple of facilities and asked many questions. We took Dad with us to one and by the time we left, we were holding on tighter to him than he was to us. There was no way we could leave him there.
I made a list of things I wanted and began praying over it, even sharing it with a couple of sweet friends who volunteered to pray with me. I knew nothing was impossible for God, so I kept praying.
While we were engrossed with our search, the coronavirus was just a blip on the screen. Only one case had been confirmed in the United States and the virus was still so new that it hadn’t yet been given the name COVID-19. The economy was bustling, students were still attending classes and picking out prom dresses. Grocery store shelves across the country were well stocked with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and bleach, and the only people wearing masks were medical staff performing surgery.
We had no idea what was coming.
We had no clue that when COVID-19 spread to America, nursing homes would be the hardest hit, accounting for one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S. Last week, the New York Times reported that 28,100 residents and workers have died from nursing homes and long-term care facilities for older adults. More than 153,000 have been infected at some 7,700 facilities.
Nursing homes weren’t prepared for a pandemic and staff members who worked in more than one facility were unknowingly carrying the virus from one home to another. Health officials wisely clamped down on visitors, but this much-needed guideline had a horrific consequence. Family members could no longer visit their loved ones. Residents with dementia especially struggled since they cannot understand or remember why the restrictions are in place, and their regular routine of family visits, which is SO important, has been disrupted.
My Father has always said, “Hindsight is 20/20” and he’s right. If we had temporarily placed him in a nursing home, he could have been infected by the virus. Depending on the facility, we may have been denied access to him or been allowed to bring him home.
We had no idea. But God did. And in His great mercy, He extended our emotional rope so that we are no longer so desperate for respite. He’s even given us a plan B.
Mom and I had toyed with the idea of getting a dog before. But now that Dad has been regressing and withdrawing into himself (Grace Arbor is closed until at least mid-June), we think it’s time to find that perfect pet. My Father loves animals and every time I bring a friend’s dog home, he lights up as if his grandchild just came to visit.
Three months ago, I prayed for guidance to place Dad in a facility for a short stay, protection over him, a wonderful staff, and an encouraging atmosphere.
Today I have a different list. I’m praying we can rescue an adult Shih Tzu that will love on my Dad and stay by his side. I’m praying Mom won’t be allergic and that this dog will need us as much as we need her.
In His wisdom and loving kindness, God stopped our plan A and graciously gave us a plan B. His plan is always better. Always.