My whole childhood is filled with memories of Papa taking care of other people. If someone wanted a custom table or cabinet built, they called my Papa. If their washing machine was overflowing or weed eater stopped working, they called my Papa. If someone needed a partner in a tennis match or a ride into town, he was the man. He could do, fix or make anything.
Here are some examples just in my house.
When he landed in the hospital a year ago, he doted on every nurse that came in. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he would ask.
He was amazed at how they came in hourly to check on him and help him get comfortable. (Those of us staying with him weren’t that gracious with all the interruptions, however!) He insisted they didn’t need to keep checking on him. He was fine.
Right, because you go the hospital and get 6 units of blood when you’re fine, I thought.
When I visited him in the hospital, he told me repeatedly that I didn’t have to be there. He was sure I had more important people to attend to.
When I told him there was not a more important person to visit right then, he met me with tearful eyes that said, “I don’t want you to go to all this trouble just for me.” He would tell me to bring the kids up there and he would watch them for a few hours – like he used to.
He preferred being the strong one and taking care of others. Now, he was the one being served and cared for.
Since Papa could no longer craft anything out of wood or fix anything with his tools or take my kids fishing, he felt useless and worse – worthless. Many days he would ask if there was a way to end it all.
“I don’t want to live like this,” he said. “Is there a place I can go and just go on to the next life?”
The first few times he asked this question it made me cry. I would leave his room thinking, this could be my last day with him. Other days I even prayed for the Lord to take him home. He was ready.
This year in the Classical Conversations program called Challenge B, my oldest had an assignment to research the hot topic euthanasia for his debate class. He had to read articles for both sides and pick which one he agreed with.
If there was ever an argument for euthanasia, I saw it with my Papa. I often wrestled with justifying it in my head. But I don’t believe that call is ours to make.
My son and I talked about Papa, for many on the Pro side argued no quality of life. According to Papa he didn’t have a great quality of life and he was ready to go. But every time he mentioned wanting to die, we looked him in the eye and said, “Papa, that decision isn’t in our hands. God will call you home one day. Until then He still has a purpose for you here. That purpose may be to let us serve you. You’ve served us your whole life and now it’s our turn.” Then he would bow his head, smile and finally, agree.
He really feared he was a burden to us. I would ask him if it was a burden taking care of me as a baby. I wasn’t able to return any favors, I often refused to say “thank you” or “please,” so was I burden to take care of?
“Of course not!” he answered. So I would assure him that in the same way, it is not a burden to take care of him. Yes, it’s hard to care for someone, infant or elderly, teenager or special needs, but that doesn’t mean we would rather them not be here! Good things are hard. Character building doesn’t come from easy times. Storms build character.
The bottom line is, Papa felt that because he couldn’t do anything for me and others like he used to meant he isn’t valuable to us anymore. He would ask “is it worth it?” Meaning, “Am I worth it even when I can’t repay you?”
And the answer? YES! Yes he’s worth it!
I am so thankful for his amazing abilities and the memories of playing sand pit volleyball, riding bikes around the lake, fishing and golfing (mostly me driving the golf cart), but he is valuable to me because he’s my Papa.
In the same way, we aren’t valuable to God just when we’re able to do something for Him. We are valuable to God because we are His! My Papa surrendered his life to Jesus Christ years ago. I remember sitting at his kitchen table before he got real sick, the question burning in my Spirit. “Papa, have you believed in Jesus Christ to be your Savior?”
His response, “Yes I have. I settled that a long time ago.”
God has appointed for us a time to be born and a time to die. We may not understand His timing. And we may long for our time to expire. But every day, every moment this side of Heaven is appointed by God and we are valuable to Him because we are His.
I remember when we first made the decision to put the younger two kids in school and he was coming to live with us, a long time friend of mine wrote me and said, “You will never regret taking care of your granddad.”
Her words brought that pang in my gut and tears in my eyes, because in some small way that was a thread of hope I held onto tightly. This was a really big deal and I don’t want to live with regrets.
Almost a year later, I can say she was right. I will never regret that. You never regret to choose life, and take care of that life.
Thanks for reading! This post is apart of a series called 31 stories of hope for every homeschooler. To see the entire series, click HERE.