It’s a conversation I never wanted to have, a place I never wanted to go. I wanted my Father to live out his years at home, to be around the familiar, even if he forgot this was his home. I prayed for this. I hoped for this. I wanted this so badly. And I still do.
But there comes a time when my Father’s needs surpass any care we could give him, when the emotional, psychological and physical toll is so great that we just can’t do it anymore. And this is where we are. My Mother has been his valiant caregiver since he was diagnosed and earned a lifetime of crowns in the past 14 years. If I didn’t need an income, I’d take care of him full-time. But no one pays you to take care of your parents.
I remember as a child playing the board game of Life by Milton Bradley. Everyone got a tiny plastic car to wind around the board. You spun the wheel and navigated through college, marriage, children and retirement. And pay day. Depending on how much money you had, you either retired to Millionaire Acres or the Poor Farm. Funny how there never was a nursing home or assisted living facility on that board game.
It was all about chance. Spin the wheel and try your luck. You may get hitched. You may have triplets. And you may owe the hospital thousands for your little bundles of joy. But at the end of the day, it was a game. And even if you ended up with no money, you could fold up the board, put the pieces back in the box and walk away.
But Mom and I can’t walk away. We can’t shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Better luck next time’. This is our time. We only get one lifetime. One shot. And this is it.
The game of Life has morphed over the years, rewarding people for good behavior and adding room for precious pets. The goal though, is still to end up with a pile of cash. Even though in real life you can’t take any of it with you. And even though the most important thing in life are the people in your tiny plastic car.
I am a Daddy’s girl. And just the thought of putting my Father in a home is like riddling my heart with bullet holes. It’s enough to push me headlong into a dark abyss of deep depression.
But there is something I’m holding onto – or that’s holding onto me – that’s keeping me from that abyss. I don’t have a few thousand dollars hidden under the game of Life. I don’t have a lucky spin or a few stock options up my sleeve. In fact, I don’t have anything tangible that I can point to. But I still have something.
Unlike the board game, my life is not about chance. It isn’t about luck. Truth be told, I’m not even spinning the wheel. I turned that over to my Daddy long ago. My Heavenly Daddy. When I grew so exasperated with trying to control everything, I relented and asked Him sit in the driver’s seat, a seat that’s much better suited for Him. Because His love for me is perfect, and because He loves my earthly Father more than I ever could, I know that whatever happens, it will be ok.
I don’t believe in chance. Not when it comes to my life. Since God considers my life (and everyone’s) so precious that He would die for me, then I know that my life is not left up to chance. I know that He has a plan and His plan is not to harm me but to prosper me, give me hope and a future. The same goes for my Dad.
My earthly Father has limits. But my Heavenly Father does not. He can do anything, including anything beyond what I could possibly imagine. He is not limited. He is not restricted. And because His love for me is perfect, I can trust Him with an uncertain future.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how many spaces are left before I get to the end. But I’m ok with that. I’m just going to keep my eyes on the Sovereign One in the driver’s seat and keep loving the people in my tiny plastic car.
If I can do that, then I know I’ll win.