Sunday, June 24, 2007

Planning

A few comments readers have left on this blog lately have given me a great deal to think about.

Am I wrong to consider that the best thing for Jeremiah is for us to find a group home situation for him?

Is this an abandonment of my child or the greatest chance he has for fulfillment and a richer life?

Are we looking at what is convenient for us, or are we truly giving him the chance to be happy in seeking his own path in life, as limited as that may be under the watchful eyes?

I’ve given much thought to the idea of family. Perhaps my view of it is screwed up.

I’ve reason to suspect my point of view. First, readers I respect have obviously different views than mine. Readers who seem to agree with me also share my American outlook. Is this a cultural bias? That people are happiest when they seek a life of their own... the whole biblical thing: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." Ephesians 5:31

Or am I rationalizing, using the Bible to justify a point of view?

Is this loving?

I think it is. At least it feels that way... For I love Jeremiah deeply, I’m willing to give him anything. And I think that being as independent as possible, being able to go to the movies when he wants, being able to choose what job he takes, learning to handle his own finances, being as much independent as possible, might make him happier than a life where his mother and I keep him in a bedroom and take him places we choose.

But I may be wrong. I often am. Perhaps my view on this is screwed up.

I am driving down to Southern California in a couple of weeks. My dad is doing something stupid and I told him I would come and watch. he has had a motorcycle built, a custom job, from the frame on up, and he is seeking to set a world record. The crazy old fart (70) is going to sit on a nitro fuel-guzzling 400 horsepower bike and streak across a dry lake bed.

I just paused in writing this to watch Jeremiah wipe a tear from his eye as the aged Rose in Titanic has dropped her diamond necklace, the Heart of the Ocean, into the North Atlantic in memory of Jack. I went over to him and gave him a hug.

Where was I? Yeah... my dad.

I’ve feared him all my life. I have difficulty respecting him because of the choices he has made, is making, and probably will always make. Frankly, the real reason I am driving a thousand miles to see him is because I think that he hates getting old so much that he would rather get killed attempting a world record than continue as a 70 year old man. so I am going down there to buy him a beer, have a conversation with him, let him know that I love him and I worry about his salvation.

He wasn’t much of a father to me. His taunts and ridicule as I grew up, his open mocking of my desire to learn, his explicit discouragement of going to college, even of finishing high school put me into a series of jobs that I was not suited for.

My two boys and I took our dog, Rocky on a walk this afternoon. There was an occasional bit of light rain, but beneath the canopy of the woods we hardly noticed. I told them that I wanted them to come with me to California. I explained the purpose of the trip, and a general idea of where we would be on each day of the week and a half trip.

Jeremiah is excited to go. Isaac has reservations.

I told them about how I feel about family. That it is important to keep in touch with family, to visit them when we can. That we can have a guys’ trip, eat junk food, stay up late, do all the stuff that Mommy usually wouldn’t let us do.

And throughout the conversation, as we walked through trillium and blackberries, past douglas fir and giant leaf maples, I kept thinking about what my kids mean to me and what is the right thing for me to be doing with them.

As I prayed with Isaac last night at his bed, he asked me to anoint him with oil. something that I do sporadically. So I did.

And it all confuses me. I do so many things with and for my children that I wish my father had done. I kiss them. I hug them. I pray for their future mates, wherever they may be, that they are godly women who will bless their lives.

And I feel a tightness in my chest when I think that my father is a selfish man who worries that people are after his wealth... all I want from him is a kind word.

I read once that during the Roman Empire a man could disown his natural son, but not an adopted child. The philosophy was that people have little choice about who is born into their family, unless they are adopted.

I chose my children and I pray, I truly pray, that I will make choices for my children that make them happy, healthy.

My dad’s dad was adopted. It’s a sad story. He was a good man. His step sons got drunk and beat him to death when I was in the third grade.

I’m adopted.

I followed after my birth parents, who did many selfish things, and I was headed for a life that was quite lost.

But I got adopted.

I was introduced into my adoptive family by Jesus. I was adopted into a heavenly family, God’s family, my adoption fees paid by my big brother, paid by His life.

So I’m feeling a little mixed up. My feelings for my children, my feelings for my father... Conflicting feelings over Jeremiah’s future, Isaac’s reluctance to go with me on this trip, even mixed feelings about this blog. Planning my parenting. Planning a trip. Planning my week.

But it’s my journey. It’s surprising I don’t get called to task for things more often than I do.

God bless all!

16 comments:

Jim said...

Well CS, I've seen those 'kids' in the group homes. One in particular that I mentioned earlier, Hope Village, is a Christian place run by Christians.
The 'kids' there seem very happy when they come to church. They appear to be happier still when their parents visit and come to church and Sunday school wirh them.

I would have let my dad go do his crazy stuff. We did 'rescue' him from the nursing home at about age 89 and helped him get settled into a very nice assisted living home.
Age 70+ can be a depressing era and since your dad isn't saved, maybe your example of your love regardless of his past treatment to you would be a witness of love that can come from God. Then, it might be good to go.
..

wilsonian said...

I sometimes fellowship with a large, happy group of developmentally delayed folks at church. They come to our community Pizza Night once a month. They don't actually need the food, but they love a party :)

These folks have deeper community than most people I know. They've developed deep friendships (and several have married), call each other and hang out regularly. Most have jobs and they all have volunteer positions in the community. It is so good to run into them in town, or at their jobs.

They care for each other, and look out for one another.

Imho, you're doing the best for your son. There are so many ways he will learn to grow only if he's allowed to live in community. There is nothing like developing a rich life with your peers.

Praying God's grace on you all...

Judas Hate said...

Thanks my Brother.

I'm looking forward to catching up on your posts as soon as I have a few moments to myself.
I hope you all are well.

Love,

Justin

Terry said...

Dear Curious Servant..Just came in and as I was reading through this, I was thinking of all kinds of things I was going to say to you, but for once, I have just a few words.
While you were talking of your father, you paused to wipe away a tear from your own son's eyes, [you didn't say this but you probably DID] and gave him a hug.
What a stark contrast to two men! Both fathers!!
Your son is indeed the blessed one, having you as a dad, and your father is indeed the blessed one, having you as a son!
And what blessings does that leave you Curious Servant?
Matthew 5:7.."Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."
.....From Terry

curious servant said...

What a very kind thing to say!

Thank you!

Squirrel said...

Praying for your father to be safe!! Praying for your peace of mind! God Bless!

Jada's Gigi said...

praying you will find your way...I of course(being American:)) favor the independence route...I have seen much of unhealthiness in families of other cultures as they frown on independence from the family...you will find your way..Jeremiah's way...and keep in mind that deep down inside we all long for community...its a God part of our nature...one reason the church exists...
Have you seen the movie "Secondhand Lions"? sounds like your dad..:)

ame said...

i'm way behind on catching up with friends out in the blog world, but i do have a very strong opinion here.

God gave us our children ... not someone else (which is difficult for those of us with screwed up parents ... but I'm focusing on us as the parent here).

No one else can know you or know your children the way you do, and no one else can know what's best like you do.

I've had MANY question some of the choices we've made with our special needs daughter, but NONE of them knows the whole story, knows her the way we know her, knows us, has gone to every physician appointment and every specialist appointment and every PT appointment and no one else has talked to ALL of these specialists. NO ONE ... but me. and i lay her at the feet of Jesus, and i listen to Him, and He guides me. am i perfect. no. but God knows that, and He works with us where we are anyway.

putting Jeremiah in a home where he can have such independence and yet also be watched is an amazing opportunity ... whether it be one for him or not is your and Brenda's choice. there's not another who has walked your path, who knows him like you do, who knows what's best. will all your choices be perfect? nope. never. but we give God all we have and do the best with what He gives us ... and we move on. that's life ... that's living.

Amrita said...

Dear CS One thing is clear that you love your boys and care for your Dad and you want to show God 's love to them, otherwise you wouldn 't worry so much.We all have our cultural, economic , life-
experience and expection differences,but the love God unites us. May God bless your heart with peace.
I was rejected by my Dad when i was growing up but grew close to him later on when he retired.

Pia said...

I think the independence route is best because you live in a culture that has it all organized and worked out. In Italy one would find such structures in the bigger urban areas, not in the rural (and of course most of Italy is rural), so a family would end up completely out of the picture. I'm sure whatever structure he goes to will work out the passage from one life to another with you and him. But what does that independence mean? I've been living away from the states for many years, so I really don't know. Is it a severing of ties? Will he be able to come home for the holidays etc? Most of all, will he understand what's happening when it becomes reality, and how will he be helped when he starts to feel homesick? (I'm an expert at that because I still feel pangs of homesickness even though I've been living thousands of miles away from my family for the past 25 years). Of course I can't know these things because I don't know exactly how severe Jeremiah's issues are. Those are the things you will have to face with him and I think it's going to be tough, but I really believe you are not abandoning him.

There is only one thing that I'd like to clarify: I have never for a minute doubted your love for your sons and I think it's particularly meaningful that you are reflecting on your relationship with your father these days. I think a guy's trip would be a great idea and a wonderful memory for them and you.

curious servant said...

As for what such a home would look like and how far away it would be... we are thinking along these lines:

There would be supervision in the home, a live in situation. He would be taught how to contribute to the livability of the home, like a college roomate situation.

Distance... we discussed, briefly, lookinng at places in Salem, but it is 40 minutes away, and we want him closer than that.

I think we would like to see him live no more than 20 minutes away... well, perhaps 30 (Portland).

As for visits, it would still include all holidays, and perhaps dropping by once a week, and going out to movies and such regularly.

We will always be in his life.

Did that answer all your questions?

Coco said...

Follow your heart...

I hope that both Jeremiah and Issac go with you to your Dad's...
and hope that your Dad comes out OK (no crashes, breaks, etc) from this World Record that he wants to do.

Blessings.

Pia said...

Yes it did, and thanks for your patience with my nosiness, CS. Hugs to you all.

Fox's Mom said...

OK, you've got some very good advisors here, and the advice is quite good.

Ah, what does your son say about it?

curious servant said...

Ever since the fire Jeremiah has been very compliant and obedient. He does not voice his own opinion easily. It takes a lot of subtle conversation to arrive at what he might be thinking. In general he seeks to say what he thinks we want to hear.

If he thinks we want him to move out on his own, he will say that. If he thinks we will miss him and wish him to stay, he will say that also.

Usually he just never says anything one way or another, but makes simple statements about how good one thing or another is and does not express his own views.

I think he likes the idea of being a grownup and having grownup responsibilities, but he is nervous about it all. I suppose much like any kid.

He knows we will always be his parent and will always be there to support him.

Amrita said...

I 'm glad America has such places where parents can put their kids to be looked after professionally.
After reading all this I wish India also had more of these homes (there are a few...many run by Christians).I know a family who had a mentally retarded child. The parents are in their eighties and are still looking after their 40 plus daughter, who is restricted to a wheelchair. They have also spoilt her so she has behavioral problems too.Such a place would be good for her.