Thursday, April 28, 2016

Former Days



Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. Ecclesiastes 7:10
In other words...
Do not ask, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Here lately, I find it hard to apply this Biblical wisdom to my life. 
During the last few months, my heart has been so heavily burdened. My daddy has been suffering from a sudden onset of  mental illness. He was diagnosed with dementia in conjunction with delirium and occasional outbursts of delusions and violence. 
It has been so heartbreaking.  The saddest part of his illness is that he is at a level of the disease where he seems to have "normal" moments, but then he "snaps".  If he was just confused but easily calmed, we could take care of him.  As it is, he has moments when his delusions cause him to act out and even hit people.  According to the specialists, people with dementia tend to act out at those closes to them, so his aggression is often times directed towards Mama. Therefore, he is unable to come home. 
Our family has been taking each day as it comes. The days are often filled with grief, memories, pain, and moments when it's hard to breathe.
 It is so difficult to deal with mental illness because, although Daddy is still here with us, we feel such a loss. 
 We're praying for God to do "something".
  The last few months have been a roller coaster.  We have prayed one thing and then another.
 I think that we have now anchored ship in the middle of this storm, and we're just holding on.
 Below is part of a daily devotion that my husband read to me and Mama several days ago.
"In fierce storms," said an old seaman, "we must do one thing; there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there."
And this, dear Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you cannot see the sun or stars to help you navigate when the storm is baring down on you. This is when you can do only one thing, for there is only one way.
Reason cannot help you, past experiences will shed no light, and even prayer will bring no consolation. Only one course remains: You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord. And then, come what may-- whether winds, waves, rough seas, thunder, lightning, jagged rocks, or roaring breakers--you must lash yourself to the helm, firmly holding your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant promises, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. --Richard Fuller

Yes, this is true. However, it is extremely difficult being pounded by fierce storms.  Our hearts ache for Daddy, and we wonder what torments he is going through.
  We want to help him and care for him, but our hands are tied.
It is in this mind frame of complete devastation that I look back on the former days and recall just how great they were.
It seems like another lifetime ago, but I reminisce about  years filled with precious memories.
From a child's point of view, life was simple.
Mama and Daddy were always home.  We always had family meals.  I remember my brother acting crazy at the supper table one evening, and Daddy sternly told him to act like a human.  He then replied, "Act like a WHO man?"  It was a good laugh then and years later.  The old homeplace doesn't seem the same.
  My brother and I rode bicycles in the yard all day long.  We made ramps out of boards and bricks.  Nothing was ever wrong with Mama or Daddy.  They were permanent fixtures of  security.  We never worried.  Summer heat was never a problem.  A huge window fan kept our home cool during the day and it would run us under the covers at night.  Yes, we slept with our windows open.
  I can still see my backyard as it was when I was a child pulling back my curtains before bedtime. I remember the song of a Whip-poor-will outside my window.  Days were filled with bike riding or making rope swings.  I remember freshly plowed fields and dirt bomb wars with my brother. I can still remember the smell of that dirt and how hot it was under my bare feet.  We splashed under a water hose that we had to bend to make spray.  We pulled each other in an old rusty wagon, or we'd hooked it to a bicycle.  We ate blackberries.  We played in the pond.  We caught turtles and tadpoles.  Dad took my brother frog gigging.  Our family fished together.  
 At the end of each day, Mama and Daddy were always there. 
Many summer days were filled with the task of shelling and putting up peas.  It was like a holiday when Mama and Daddy  turned on the huge air conditioning unit in the kitchen.  This was the only occasions I ever remember the air conditioner running.
 It made shelling peas an exciting time. Mama would spread a big sheet over the kitchen table, and buckets of warm peas, straight out of the field, would be piled on top of the table.  Putting up corn was much the same.  Daddy would be at the stove boiling corn and mama would be creaming it. If all the corn was shucked and cleaned, my brother and I would bring our blankets and pillows into the kitchen and lie down on the floor enjoying the special air condition day while we watched Mama ad Daddy putting up corn.  
Those were such good days.
I remember the days turning colder.
With Mama and Daddy, we would rake yards and
 burn limbs.
To this day,  I love the smell of burning limbs and leaves.
It always triggers a memory of a certain evening, just before dark, when we were all still in the yard burning piles of limbs.
Fall was always an exciting time because we began looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
Mama and Daddy always seen to it that we had the very best holidays.  I remember lying under the live Christmas Tree looking up at all the lights.  On one of our four television channels, we would watch holiday specials like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as a family.  
My brother and I never had a care because Mama and Daddy were always there.
These memories keep flooding my mind.
 I miss the days when I never worried about Mama or Daddy.  I miss home the way it was.
  I miss my parents' youth.
 I miss my youth.
I can't believe how sudden Daddy's mental health changed.  He isn't that old. Mama, other than worrying about Daddy, is doing fine.  All the hurt and stress does take a toll on her though.
  I miss the way life was just this past December.
 Life can change in a heartbeat.  It sure has for us.
I suppose the Bible tells us that it is not wise to ask why the former days were better than these because it makes a person sad.
Life is often times sad though.
  I just can't help to dwell on yesterday when today seems so hard. 
It seems here lately that most anything can trigger a memory.
 While driving today, I passed what looked to be a wild plum tree.  We use to call them "Hog Plums".  Immediately, I was taken back to the hot summer days when I would eat my weight in delicious little plums.
  I was reminiscing about all those carefree days when Mama and Daddy seemed invincible.   
We can't go back.
  If the good Lord wills, tomorrow is another day.
 I know He holds our future.  I know He is at work in my family, and the Anchor is holding us through this storm.  Sometimes you just have to cry during the storm, and think back on the days of smooth sailing.
I don't know what this life holds for me or my family.
 I don't know God's plans for my precious Daddy.
  I know life is a vapor, and one day all this pain will be no more. 
Eternity is coming!
 And when that day comes, we will never again look back at the former days. 

7 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful post and reminder. Thank you so much for posting. I needed this today.
    My heart breaks for you . . .

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  2. Dear Chris! My heart aches for you. I so know how you feel, and God does, too. I have walked through so much of what you are now walking through, and I can only encourage you that God will see you through this. Both my dear Mom and Dad are gone. I think about them so often and reminisce and long for those days of old. Only God could ever know how much this all hurts. Just love on your dear mama and daddy while you still have them. Even when it is difficult, and you don't understand, at least they are still there with you....you can still hug them and tell them you love them and hold them close to you, eat a meal with them, and another thing that will help is for the three of you to reminisce TOGETHER. It will absolutely help to do this...even though you will cry, they will be cleansing, therapeutic tears, because you still have THEM to do this with. Life is changing, and the changes are not pleasant ones. God is slowly easing you into a new season of life, where things will be forever different, and life as you knew it will forever be a thing of the past. Enjoy the moments that are happening..in front of you now, and know that God is there, and your mama and Daddy are still there, and you can still tell them you love them. What a gift and privilege that is! Love you so much, sweet friend, and if you need to talk, I am here. I understand.

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  3. Beautiful post, Chris! It made me think of the long ago times, when life was simple, and the only worry I had, was if my mother would make me eat my green beans or not. And even though I'm only 17, I've seen my fair share of change. Sending prayers your way, and remember, He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Blessings! Abigail.

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  4. How true that life can change in a heartbeat. Somewhat the same happened to my dad. He had a minor stroke but is able to think clear and move about fairly well with help. Thanks for the 'apples of gold.'

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  5. Oh Chris, my heart goes out to you! It is heartbreaking to see this happen to our loved ones. We have a similar situation in our family and the grief it is causing is very difficult... Praying for peace for all of your loves ones...

    Thank you also for linking up with the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth!

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  6. How heartbreaking! I am praying for you and your family right now.

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  7. The times of former days were simple and although my Dad worked for the Rail Road, my mother was always home when we arrived back from school. The large back yard had a garden, and in one corner a chicken pen and coop. We had fresh eggs, and at times raised baby chickens to become fryers. Dad passed away first, and for years mom was okay, then she must have had a minor stroke, because change came. Dementia caused her to not know who I was. When it became too bad, it was time to place her in a Christian assisted living community. She was content there, and at times her memory would come back and then wander off again. We took old photos to show her, and music also helped sooth. I know you are going through a difficult time, and I pray that God will somehow quiet your dad and bring him peace. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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