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Monday, January 9, 2012

The House Next Door

My friend is saying goodbye to her parents. She is doing so slowly, painfully, and yet --gracefully. I admire the strength and honest goodness she brings to her parents as she cares for them. Despite the strain of a troubled relationship with her mother, she is the one to whom her mother now clings. Perhaps her mother senses her time is near. My friend’s father is often lost in a world of his own invention. He is sweet and gentle but, at times, unavailable and unreliable because he is so ensconced in his own reality. He has a sense of the physical and emotional toll that caring for both his wife and him places on his daughter, and it brings him grief. Through all of this, I am awe-struck by my friend’s strength. From first light until late in the evening, she might be found at the house next door. For so many years, that proximity reflected the bond woven by three generations of family. Now my friend manages the washing laundry, changing linens, bathing, preparing meals, shopping, and transportation of her parents while holding down a job and caring for a family of her own. What touches me most is, that despite the challenges in her own life, she is always willing to stop by to help me with a task or run an errand. I learn from her every time I am with her. She is a study in patience, kindness and goodwill. She numbers among the people in my life who inspire me to be all that I can be and to reach for what I want. Simultaneously, she models self-sacrifice and genuine generosity. Each time she leaves her parents, she wonders if she will see them again. Rather than throw my hands up and say. “What can I do?” I will do my best to think of her every night when I get ready for bed; I will send her a prayer that her path is illuminated, that her load is lightened, and that she knows she is loved. The rest is out of my hands.

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