Today marks two years since my dear mom passed away—August 27, 2020. I wrote the following letter four months after my mom died, recollecting the time my husband John and I spent living with her for four years in her home. I mailed this note to a few very close friends at the time, but today, I feel like posting this in her honor and sharing that I am still sad about a lot of things, but I know moving on would be what she would want for me.
First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for John and me over the past few years. We were in a unique season of life—a life we never expected to be in. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.
Most of you know that in January 2016, I moved into my parent’s home when my dad was ill with leukemia and dementia. John was working overseas at the time. Dad died in February 2016.
Being concerned about mom, I stayed with her after Dad’s passing. The idea of her alone in the house made me want to stay with her. Unfortunately, 2016 brought a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer to mom on top of all her other ailments, so I continued to stay at mom’s house. John came home from his overseas assignment shortly after mom’s diagnosis and moved into mom’s house with me.
We locked up our house, and our life became different—more different than we ever expected. John retired after completing his overseas assignment but found a little part-time work, and life moved on. We settled into our life with mom in west Houston, trying to adjust to not being in our own home. I did fine for the first two years. But, the last two years were physically and emotionally tough on me. As mom progressively needed more care and attention, I became more nervous and anxious. I was not my usual self. I had a hard time coping, although I was able to conceal it from others for the most part.
John saw and experienced my constant exhaustion, my need for respite, and my emotional stress worsening daily. He was my rock. I cannot imagine any other person being so kind and generous as giving up his home and life to partner with me in caretaking my mother – his mother-in-law. John occupied my mom with mind-boggling conversations and debates. He made dinner most days, and towards the end, his help and love truly inspired me as he provided nursing duties way beyond his pay grade. Christ-like love was indeed in action!
God knew my fragile mental state. And I hate to say it, but COVID was the lifeline I needed to be able to move back home. It had become apparent that I was not doing well with our 24/7 living arrangement at mom’s house. When COVID hit: Mom’s housekeeper was able to move in with her even though we were back towards the end of mom’s life. John, me, and mom all sleeping in the same bedroom, available for whatever.
Even being home was highly stressful, with daily visits to mom’s house, more doctor’s appointments than ever, and issues relating to mom’s declining health.
If you have not guessed by now, two thousand twenty has been the roughest ride of my life!
I am omitting many “specifics” so I do not get bogged down and miss the point I am trying to share with you.
The fact is, a good friend said, “God has positioned people who can take our hands and help us find our way through the fog and storms.” You are those people!!! Your prayers helped me to pray and not lose my heart. Your prayers helped me to pursue seeking the Highest God, your prayers helped me to stay strong in the Word of God, and your prayers reminded me that challenges are for our spiritual growth. This journey was not anything I had ever imagined, but God knew I had to go through it. This season was sent to accomplish things in me that could not have been accomplished any other way.
Some of you have been where I was. Some of you have not. However, I want you to know that when we experience tears and disappointment, it does not have to dimmish our relationship with the Lord. He allows each new experience to make us aware that we need to trust Him so solidly that we can tell Him the down and dirty of all we think and encounter. When I had questions, God was there. When I cried, He was there. When I could not handle it anymore, God was still there. Even though there were times I could not feel His presence, you kept me hanging on to Him. That was possible due to your prayers. Thank you!
Mom died on August 27, 2020. John and I received a call at 1:50 a.m. from my older brother to come home. I had my cuddle time with mom; then, at 3:50 p.m. that afternoon, she took her final breath.
It has only been a few months since we left that season of our lives. Still, thankfully God is showing me why the experiences I encountered were essential. I do not understand many things that came about during that season. But God always pointed me back to Him—calling me to trust Him when I couldn’t see the whys of the past or the wonders of the future. During my caregiving time, I encountered burnout, compassion fatigue, taxing emotions, and the perps of spending time with my dear mom. I knew the challenges were in His hands. Thanks for your prayers!
Life is an adventure. I wailed many times during this period, “Lord, I can’t handle it anymore!” But He knew and knows when it is time to step in for relief. God moved when I reached the pinnacle of my despair in August. These years are now part of my life story. I recognize that “being out of our comfort zone” is usually the only way we can grow, and I thank God for it. I experienced many sweet times with mom that would not have been possible any other way, but it was still strenuous and tough on me. So, thanks again for your prayers!
Each day, I feel a little more rested and restored. I know that the Lord will use this experience for His glory. There are so many Biblical principles that I had read in Scripture but not experienced before. I encountered so many aspects during these 4+ years: love, forgiveness, gratitude, and boundaries—to mention the positive ones. Sometimes it is hard to see circumstances clearly when living under stress or in a bleak period. Still, when the light is slowly restored, we can feel God’s peace and presence in extraordinary ways—even supernaturally. We start understanding the why, the why not, the how much longer questions of life. In these times, we must depend on the prayers of our friends like you. And for that, thanks again for your prayers!
My takeaway is to encourage you to look at your circumstances through the eyes of our heavenly Father. Commit to renewing your mind daily with prayer and Bible study. Remember that darkness does not stay forever in whatever situation you face. Even through hard times, He is close by—guiding us, building our faith, and waiting to meet our needs. He has a purpose for everything we experience in life, to prepare us for His assignments here on earth or for our heavenly home.
Today—Two Years Later
Yes, John and I have moved on; that is a long story. Still, one thing we both know is that God directed and allowed us to spend time with mom. However, I encountered difficult times caregiving at points along the way. If you are caregiving, hang on! Memories are being formed that will be cherished more with time. The emotional journey has a purpose that God will use in your life ministries.
While living with my mom, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending. I wrote it during the first two years of living with mom. If I had waited until later, the book would probably never have been written. I left out the hard part, the biography of my experiences as time passed, because I hadn’t experienced that. However, it is a good book for those starting on the journey of caregiving with lots of Scripture references. I am not posting this as a sales pitch for my book, but I wanted you to know good things come from caregiving. Our strength in Him and knowing that He always has His best for us in mind keeps us going.
Mom, I love you, and I always will. Thanks for loving me. I still miss you two years later.
Verses from Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending [9780692115381-Available on Amazon.com. Only $7.44 today.
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3)
Books by Patti Greene
- Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
- Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
- Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
- Christian Caregiving
BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES
- Bible Word Search Puzzles: The Gospels, Volume 1
- Bible Word Search Puzzles; Acts and Epistles, Volume 2
- Bible Word Search Puzzles: Epistles and Revelation, Volume 3