Living on purpose, Jan. 13

Published 9:33 am Friday, January 13, 2017

Love will endure whatever may come

It’s hard to believe that six months has gone by since my dad passed away. I know that many of you have lost one or both parents and I’m sure we never really get over losing our loved ones but rather learn how to adapt as we try to keep pressing forward. Dad was the hub in our family where all the spokes were connected and now without him there is a huge void. As the oldest child, I’m trying to step in and help in any I can, but only the Lord can heal the wounds within our heart and bring comfort and peace that passes all understanding. He was only 77 years old which is a decent span of life, considering he lived with serious kidney problems. He had an illness called PKD which stands for, Polycystic Kidney Disease and as the kidney function continues to decline, the individual must turn to dialysis in order to keep the rest of the body functioning properly. A kidney transplant is an excellent option and as several of my family members have went this route, for them it has truly been a miracle.

For reasons that my dad came to terms with, he decided to not have a transplant. He started dialysis in 1996 and this past year made the unbelievable stretch of 20 years on the “machine” and was a model patient which helped greatly with his success. Through these last two decades, he had times when he felt decent and then there were weeks when he suffered with terrible pain but you would hardly know it. He would force a smile and always try to direct the conversation toward something other than him being sick. Since his departure to heaven, which by the way gives us comfort and encouragement, I have come to realize how much my mother also struggled. She has always been in relatively good health, but since they had such a close relationship, she naturally became absorbed in what he was going through. I am sorry to say that most of the time, we were so focused on dad, we hardly noticed that as a constant care-giver, it was not only his life that had become turned up-side down but hers as well.   

Dad was an organizer and always thinking ahead, so it’s not a surprise he had been preparing mom to take over their affairs after his death. They planned their funerals and was helping her understand about certain details and now everything seems to be going as well as can be expected.

In all of this, it is true that no matter how we try to brace ourselves for someone to pass away, we are always broken and in shock with the loss. I am proud of how my mom is at least trying to get out and function in the world by herself. Even with us visiting and calling every day and along with her making new friends at her church, she confides in me that she is lonely which of course is understandable. Dad left their car in good shape and she goes shopping or wherever and recently her church purchased a new van and they provide transportation which is a blessing especially in the winter. After church a couple of Sundays ago, she went to the Pizza Hut for lunch. A couple that she knows walked in and came over to her table to say hello. The woman said, “you are sitting all by yourself” and mom instantly replied, “well, I might as well get used to it” which is somewhat comical but also a little sad. I have written a short story called, “Till death do us part” and it’s posted it on my website if you would like to read it sometime. It’s about the unfailing commitment and compassion my parents had for one another through nearly 60 years of marriage and reminds us that no matter what the future holds, the power of God’s love can give us the faith and strength to walk through anything together. 

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com