Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A few weeks ago the fair was in town. A steady stream of animal trailers slowed in front of our house so they could make they turn into the fair ground’s livestock entrance; the RVs and buses carrying cowboys and rodeo clowns paused as they negotiated the corner, and my kids stood in the yard soaking it up.
Brenda is a trooper. Even though she had a lot going on in her life (more about that in a moment) she took the time to go with us to the fair (My Fair Lady!).
First, it has been a stressful year for her (read the last 100 posts or so). We went on a road trip to Wyoming (a week together in the van can be a lot of fun, but... well at least the dog didn't get sprayed by a skunk this year). We got new floors in four rooms (and therefore felt the need to fix cabinets, fixtures, windows, and repaint).
She’s going to college, and this summer s she made the same mistake I made once. I took a nine week chemistry course in an accelerated 3.5 weeks, only she’s doing biology. She is maintaining her 4.0 GPA while washing clothes and dishes, cooking meals, and dealing with... family.
Her sister was staying with us with a teen daughter, and her other sister was having a baby. We went through wrapping up elements of Jeremiah’s informal probation.
The biggest issue is her father is in the hospital. He’s been there about three weeks and we have been worried.
He lives near Puerta Vallarta. He served in the Navy in the late 50s and so comes up to Portland to go to the V.A. hospital when he needs surgery. He needed surgery, and came up in March.
He argued, and threatened and pushed, and the doctors to work on him. They finally did, three weeks ago. They did bypass surgery for the arteries carrying blood to his legs. The operation was completely successful. His legs are getting enough blood now and he’s no longer in danger of losing them. In fact his feet are warm and pink and no longer tingle.
But he didn’t tell his doctors how much he drank. Three days after his operation he started having delirium tremens. He pulled out his IVs, and his catheter, and his stitches. So they restrained and sedated him.
He was so angry. He tried to fight them, bite them. Hs blood pressure shot up. He had a stroke.
We agreed to take him in, help his recovery. I asked you to pray.
So it has been nearly a week and I’m here to let you know where we are at, where he is at. (Even though I’m a trained English teacher, I find ending a sentence in a preposition satisfying sometimes, but I digress, which is also a comfortable thing to do sometimes, even when blogging.)
His stroke slurred his speech, his delusions increased. He had trouble remembering things, we worried.
And he started to get better. His speech improved. The slack side of his face began to tighten up a little. I tossed in a comment thanking you for your prayers and asked for patience.
His doctors told us his prognosis today. He has Alzheimer's, forgetting many things important to him. He has deliriums also, imaging things that do not exist. He cannot go home. He cannot stay in the hospital. A care facility will cost about $3,300 a month, which is apparently a bargain because of his VA benefits. Hmmm.
He has been a jerk for much of his life. He has been mean, and worse, to his wife. He has been self-centered, and opinionated to the point of exclusion of almost all other ideas.
Hey, I love him. Odd... He isn’t my father, but I still love him. I suppose love isn’t about blood or what someone has done for you. Hmmm. That was an obvious thing to say, coming from a man who has adopted three children and loves them more than his own life (now I’m talking about myself in the third person! I’m in a very strange mood today...).
Anyway, I love him and want to do what I can for him. He can’t stay here... He sees turtles under his bed and hummingbirds over it. And though he says that he owns the land the V.A. hospital sits on, that doesn’t mean he should be living in my home.
What I am more concerned about is his soul.
When I was visiting him yesterday I thought a lot about who he is. Though he hasn’t been the sort of person who loves others easily, I wonder if that can change.
I asked such a question of my friend and pastor.
“Do you think some people can’t be saved?”
“Oh no!” he said. “It’s never too late.”
He had an experience this past year, of praying and watching for someone close to him who rejected God throughout his life. And just before this person my friend loved died, he accepted the Lord.
He had kept putting it off because he felt he needed to change, to get his life in order, before he could go to God, go to church, before he could go to his knees.
My friend told him that he didn’t have to change at all. All he had to do was accept the gift that was being offered, salvation.
My friend told him that the changing would happen later.
And he’s right.
For this person who was so important to my friend the change came, a change of the heart. The change made him smile bright and often, for the short time he was still mortal.
My father in law can know that change too.