What to Do
My 90-year-old mother had moved from across the county to within 15 kilometres of us. During the 40 years of our marriage up to this time, my husband, Kevin, and I had led a fairly quiet life. But that ended abruptly the day Mom moved near.
It wasn’t only the 4,679 questions about our private lives she’d asked over the last 48 months. Or the 723 requests she’d made for us to stop by her place and help her find something she’d lost. While that just annoyed us and took up time, lately, I’d grown concerned over other, more serious issues.
Mom had never wanted to use her cane or walker, arguing that she didn’t need them. But she’d begun falling, even breaking two ribs. She often forgot the names of relatives or what day of the week it was. The managers of her assisted-living building had to turn off the electricity to her stove, since she’d left it on too many times while she napped.
My mother was failing. And I didn’t know what to do about it.
“Call Lou Ann,” a gentle voice in my heart told me. Lou Ann was a friend from our church who’d taken care of her mom with Alzheimer’s until it was no longer safe to leave her alone, even for a minute. Lou Ann had been forced to put her mother into a facility, a decision I knew broke her heart.
Lou Ann is the perfect person to help me sort out my feelings, I thought. She’ll be able to offer me the comfort and advice I need. I eagerly dialed her work number, hoping we could get together that day during our lunch break. When I explained my plight to Lou Ann, she was sympathetic but put me off.
“I’m so swamped at work, I can’t get away until next month,” she said. “Can you wait that long?”
I told her it wasn’t a problem. But inwardly, I was disappointed. Who was going to help me in the meantime?
Lou Ann’s Story
Then before we said goodbye, Lou Ann began to tell me her own story, much of which I hadn’t heard when she’d asked for prayer at church.
“Mom has a huge bruise on her arm. The nurses think it might be a blood clot, but they have no idea how she got it,” Lou Ann said, her voice heavy with fatigue and worry. “One of the other residents told me recently that Mom spends all of her time trying to escape. I know she hates living there, but I had no other option.”
Lou Ann told me how she had to take time off work to take her mom to the emergency room, and then make up her missed hours later in the week, which was why she was swamped.
“Don’t your two brothers who live here in town help you at all?” I asked.
“Not that much,” Lou Ann sighed.
Even though my only brother had died six years earlier, at least my husband and son regularly pitched in to help with Mom. It seemed Lou Ann’s situation was far worse than mine.
I told Lou Ann we’d pray for her and her mom, and she thanked me with a smile in her voice.
The next Sunday at church, Lou Ann told me that her mom’s arm was beginning to heal. “My mom’s ribs are starting to give her less pain, too,” I replied. We stood and chatted longer than usual. And when it came time to leave, we made plans to get together soon. We both left church with lighter hearts.
As I drove home, I reflected that Lou Ann was someone who needed a friend to share her concerns with as much as or more than I did. I’d thought God was leading me to her because she could solve some of my problems. Instead, I realized that I had been led to Lou Ann so that I could help with hers.
And in the bargain, God had surprised me with the gift of friendship.