Walking in the shadows

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

I've mentioned my dad before in this space. With the exception of a handful of years in my late teens and early twenties when I (in my mind) was ten feet tall and bullet-proof, unquestionably the smartest person on the planet, and he (again, in my mind) was a woefully out-of-touch fossil, my father has been my hero. At this point, with Daddy turning 80 this year, and me in my 58th year, we're in a place we've never been before.

For the last several years, Daddy has been primary caregiver to my mother. She suffers from diabetes, kidney failure, and heart disease. Daddy keeps up with her diet, her hygiene, her meds, and a plethora of doctor appointments, including three-times-per-week dialysis treatments. His sole occupation is taking care of Mama. If she makes it through November, she will join Daddy in the octogenarian club. We're hopeful, but it has grown increasingly questionable as to whether that will occur.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. -Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)

A series of setbacks and niggling health issues have had Mama in and out of hospitals for most of this summer. As soon as one item is addressed, it seems three more pop up. Many of you have been there - some of you may be going through something similar even now. It is very discouraging for the patient and for those close to the situation. A few weeks ago, my dad asked my two brothers and me to come home so we could discuss end-of-life decisions and arrangements, specifically for Mama, but also for himself.

Of course, we made plans and met at his house as quickly as we could. How could we not be there for this man who has always been there for us? The next four days were bittersweet, as we talked through some tough issues, put some plans in place for the coming days, cleaned up some things that had been neglected for a while, visited much, cried a little, and laughed a lot. Mama rallied while we were there and was more aware and communicative than we had seen her in a while. It was a blessed time. One of these times will be our last time, but this wasn't it.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23:5-6 (ESV)

Why am I writing this down and sharing it here? Because Daddy has never thought of himself as heroic. He has loved my Mama well for 60+ years, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. He raised three boys to know and love Jesus. He will leave a legacy of wisdom, friendship, service, and godly influence. Is he perfect? Not at all. But when I think of what it means to be disciple, the example of my dad would be one worth striving for. Kind of like this song from Wayne Watson. Enjoy.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNypkn8Q7fI

Scott Thompson