Ten years ago today, 10 days after his 77th birthday, my dad died from Parkinson's. Like many other adult children, in the weeks before and after, I suffered from the "guilties."
A chain of thoughts, common to you or others who've lost parents, or are walking with them through the end of life stage, ran though my head:
"If only I'd been able to see him one more time."
"I wish I could have done more for him."
"If only I'd been able to visit more often."
And the final and critical "If only""
"If only I'd been able to be there when he passed."
Due to a series of communications gaffes, I wasn't notified until the day Daddy died. My brother and sister didn't receive the news, either. Daddy died without family at his side.
In the midst of my "guilties" as my husband, daughter and I flew to Wisconsin for the funeral, something interesting happened. My grief was interrupted by a phrase that my dear friend Lupe had used years earlier to reassure me when our unruly teenage sons had pulled shenanigans. (They've since grown into responsible husbands and parents.)
I'd agonized over being a good mother back then. And I kept being stymied at our sons' antics. Was I doing something wrong? And how should I respond to this behavior?
Walking together through our neighborhood, Lupe reminded me that things would be okay. God would use even my missteps for good
"God makes up the difference," she would say.
As I landed in Wisconsin and visited the nursing home where Daddy spent his last days, the truth of Lupe's words rang true once again. The nurses reported:. Several days before Daddy died, the staff began playing hymns all day long. They read cards sent by some 40 members of the various congregations he had served as pastor. Many parishioners thanked him for his contributions in their lives. One card contained a photo of a handsome man in his forties. "Who is this man?" his nurse asked. "Me," he said with clarity.
We heard more about God's working through the nursing staff on behalf of Daddy. They prayed aloud with him and rubbed his shoulders. They held his hand and reassured him of God's love.
No, Daddy was not alone when he died. What we children couldn't do, others could do and did. I am incredibly grateful and assured that when we can't do our part, or when we do it less than perfectly, God makes up the difference.
Can you think of times in your relationship with your aging parent when God made up the difference?