Posted by: R M White | 08/02/2008

… Of Choices and How They Grow Us (part 2)

About 15 or so years ago my parents called a family meeting with my sister, Faye, and me and our husbands. Dad and Mom had made concrete decisions about the end of their lives and Jonell’s (our downs syndrome sister). Basically, they had living wills and left Jonell in joint custody of us girls. With our husbands’ blessings we agreed we would bring Joni into our home(s) at such time it was necessary and also, would use no means of ‘artificial’ life support for any 3 of them. Which essentially led us to the palliative and hospice care for all 3.

I have enjoyed countless surprise blessings during these past few years helping my sister, Faye, take care of Dad during his illness and until he passed away, then Mom until she left to join Dad and now we lavish love and care on our precious Jonell – whose days are on earth are drawing to a close as well. None of these years, months or days have been easy – it’s a hard, difficult choice to decide to choose palliative or hospice care but despite the bone-tired weariness and mental anguish at seeing a loved one suffer, it is an amazing honor and privilege to be a part of the end of someone’s life and serve them in intimate ways.

Lately, I have been talking with God pretty constantly – you need to when you rely on his strength moment by moment. But along with begging for his help, I have taken pleasure and even laughed at the serendipities along the way.

For example, I have had the sweet time with both my sisters – day in and day out and that has been great! Faye is 9 years older and we’ve just gotten closer in ways that are marvelous. We are so different and yet so alike. In amongst the hours of caring for our precious ones we’ve had some terrific times. We had one summer of ‘our garden’ (and a rustic, beautiful garden it was!); we had a season of creativity when we made glass mosaic stepping stones; we’ve harvested her crops from their garden; we’ve shared favorite authors and books and cooking – we both love to cook and share tips and personal recipes. Oh, and the walks we’ve gone on when the house is settled and the time is right. The poignant moments we’ve shared with our dear ones and each other have been mystical and beautiful…in ways that only those who participate in death can truly appreciate.

Jonell has always had personality plus!! She blessed us with her amazing sense of humor in the most unlikely times and that continues. During this time of unbelievable weakness she still manages to make us smile and often laugh. The other day, she reached over and popped her C.N.A. on the bottom! Amanda was so tickled. Sometimes she makes this squinched up face just to make you smile…it actually is an expression our Mom used to make like when she would take a bite of food she really didn’t enjoy. At times all Jonell has is a twinkle in her eye and as Dad used to say ‘she’s got a little Nick in her’ – meaning she’s up to mischief (or she’d like to be). Someday I will write a paper or just an essay on how loving and affectionate downs syndrome people are – it is an amazing, dominate characteristic. What a serendipity for all families of these truly special individuals. Ahhh, our sweet angel here on earth – you have made our lives richer.

Did I choose this time of my life? Well, I am a willing participant, but I guess this is a situation where life chooses you. Since before time began – before I was a twinkle in my Daddy’s eye – the Heavenly Father laid out the script and cast me in this leading role. And so, I choose not only to participate willingly but to fulfill my part with exuberance, love, and utter joy at the privilege of being just who I am.

Esther 4:14 And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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