"On the surface, nothing changed. Inside, I did. -Terry Pluto-
Things fall apart. Our parents and kids and spouses and friends get sick. Or they die. We lose our jobs, our houses, our health insurance. Then there's divorce, disappointment, depression, disillusionment. Bad things happen to good people.
What do we do? Last Saturday, Terry Pluto, a gifted sports writer, who also writes a column on faith & spirituality for The Plain Dealer, delivered a KEEPER, no matter what your religion or lack thereof.
"When my father had a stroke that disabled him and robbed him of his speech, I prayed for a miracle. Then I prayed that he would die quickly, so that he would not endure a silent life in a wheelchair with so much of his old life gone. And selfishly, I wanted it over because it made my life harder.
After a year, neither prayer was answered the way I wanted.
Someone once told me, "Prayer often does not change the situation, but it does change how we think and feel about it. So keep praying."
I began to pray, "OK, God, get me through this."
It's a prayer I've heard from cancer patients, from parents of adult children who are having problems, from people who find themselves without a job, a spouse, even hope.
About four years after my father's stroke, I finally was living in "Thy will be done" territory. I figured I might as well go along with what God was doing because it was not about to change. My father died six months later, and those were the best six months we had.
On the surface, nothing changed. Inside, I did."
Wednesday night, when I walked into our den, my husband was transfixed on a PBS special, Caring for Your Parents. It's a 90 minute documentary by filmmaker Michael Kirk that premiered on April 2. In PBS fashion there are sure to be many repeats. It follows the struggles of five families caring for their aging parents and I urge everyone, whether you've been there, are there, or will be there, to see this. To check times, or watch online, you can click HERE!
From Michael Kirk the producer:
- I've watched caretakers take on so many burdens that their own health is jeopardized, and I've also seen wonderful transformations where children & parents talk, really talk, for the first time in their lives.
- I saw love in action. I saw that the caregivers who could transcend their own needs (a lot of the time) were the beneficiaries of a very positive experience-and so were their parents.
- I also saw the effects of stress and emotional strain on the health of caregivers. It is too big a job for one person.
- Bring patience and your best self to the task. Take care of yourself physically, don't believe a magical transformation is going to take place and start with the realization that as long as your parents are capable of making decisions they should be allowed.
And in the words of my favorite Jewish Buddhist grandmother Sylvia Boorstein, speaking at a multi-faith baccalaureate ceremony at Stanford University:
May our lives go well, may we be happy, may our dreams come true. May we stay awake and alert, may we stay friendly, may we stay amazed.