H. J. Mcfarland Memorial Home

Mom’s last weeks and days and hours were spent at H. J. Mcfarland Memorial Home in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario.  For me, it was very important that Dad take me on a bit of a journey of the grounds and halls that they shared together during that time. I wanted to see the gardens that Mom saw, before the roses came into full bloom.  I wanted to see the crops in the fields that they saw together, growing and changing day by day, as Dad pushed Mom’s wheelchair.  He said that in the first days, there was nothing but soil…and then the lovely green of spring sprouts came to be.  Gardens and the landscapes of Canada were always so inherent to Mom.

P1110198The day that I visited, I saw the courtyard that Mom would have seen from her window.  I saw the roses in full bloom and I sat in the shade of the gazebo where together, my parents would take quiet rest.  I looked out at the sprawling grounds and saw the mighty trees.  I could not help but connect with a sense of life’s cycles and about the continuity of all life: from the dawn of living things until the dusk…and finally, rest…knowing that the darkness is a step into light everlasting, aptly written by Rabindranath Tagore.

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

…and from the Psalms…

Psalm 18:28
You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. (NLT)

The women and men who cared for Mom during her last days and supported Dad as he walked this journey, were people of great blessing.  Mom was given the dignity and light that she so deserved.  She was given beautiful meals.  She was able to touch soil for the last time, potting small plants in the springtime.  Mom and Dad were given respect and kindness and for this and more, I will always be grateful.

P1110199 P1110205 P1110212 P1110217 P1110222

Recently, I watched a Frontline documentary about assisted living and I know that for some families, there is a huge deficiency in the care that is given for their loved ones.  As our population of ‘boomers’ continues to grow, I think that it is imperative that there be stronger guidelines for the sake of those we love and advocacy on the part of all governments and citizens, for strong practice in the arenas of social, spiritual, physical, mental and psychological responsibility to our aging populations.  While I don’t wish for this post to become political, there is much to be said about these issues not being swept under the carpet, but for light to be shed on related issues.

I am in awe at the strength that my father showed in his walk with his precious wife and my mother and her journey with Alzheimer’s disease.  Because of his inspirational ‘walk’, I am far more aware and sensitive to the vast numbers of caregivers who are daily-struggling with some version of his own truth.  Society has to re-focus their best efforts where all of these interconnected issues come to intersect.

This being said, and looking again at the purpose for this post, I want to close by saying that I am grateful for the care that Mom received at H. J. Mcfarland Memorial Home. Below, a brief description of the man who generously donated the property and facility that in the end, was my mother’s last home in Prince Edward County.

A Man Called Harvey: A profile of H. J. McFarland, Picton’s longest-serving Mayor

Harvey McFarland grew up as a poor farm boy in Roblin, Ontario. His childhood experience drove him to seek a better life. After a series of jobs as a logger, and threshing grain and hauling rock with his team of horses, Harvey started a construction company that made him a millionaire.

Harvey James Mcfarland

Harvey James Mcfarland

Helpless

Sometimes we are helpless in our circumstances.  Tonight I’m writing about helplessness.  I want to make an important distinction, however…because I am not writing about hopelessness. For me, they are different.

help·less 

1. Unable to help oneself; powerless or incompetent.
2. Lacking support or protection: They were left helpless in the storm.
3. Impossible to control; involuntary

hope·less

1. Having no hope; despairing.
2. Offering no hope; bleak.
3. Incurable.
4. Having no possibility of solution; impossible.

 

Tonight, certain situations come to mind.  Some are very large.  Some smaller.  But, in the scheme of life experience, it all matters. With all of my heart, I lift up prayer for those in utterly impossible circumstances. On the east coast, a family has lost their eighteen year old daughter.  Also…somewhere…a sister has lost her brother.  A mother has lost her child.  A child has lost his mother.  And yet, every moment of every day, a new life comes to be.  Birth does not, however, exclude the pain of loss.  Grief is a huge reality.  I pray for you all in your grief; for your loss… divorce, separation, abandonment, disloyalty, death, illness.

lola-hellabrunn-zoo-munich-germany-photo-bancroft-landov

Lola passes at the Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, Germany-Photo: Bancroft-Landov

A facebook offering from Information Blitz.  Orphaned elephant.

A facebook offering from Information Blitz. Orphaned elephant.

My mother sleeps in a long term care facility room and I wonder how she is sleeping and try to remember her laughter.  I want to pull her blankets around her.  I do not know and can not know her thoughts.  She can not communicate any more about the things that hurt her.  I feel helpless.  I have to trust in the love of her care givers.  I pray for all of those who have family members suffering dementia, loss of memory, loneliness or depression, ill health.

P1100418Today it was reported that a baby was left as sewage and then miraculously saved when “a tenant heard the baby’s sounds in the public restroom of a residential building in Zhejiang province in eastern China.”  This and many atrocities against the innocent come to mind and I feel helpless.  Most days it feels like it is not enough to be appalled.  I pray for the unborn…and for children…that they are protected, sheltered, fed and loved.

(Photo: AFPTV AFP/Getty)

(Photo: AFPTV AFP/Getty)

 Photograph: Imaginechina/Rex Features

Photograph: Imagine China/Rex Features

I found a wee nestling when I arrived home yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. flying urgently about, helpless to aid the still-breathing moving bird.  I slipped it cautiously back up into its nest and reinforced the broken vent.  Assistance was generously given by Peter and Rick.  Taking action minimized my feeling of helplessness.  But, today it is quiet at the nest…Mr., as though by instinct, returning again and again, to look in.  Helpless.

sparrowbaby2012

Before the Fall

Mrs. Before the Fall

Mr. After Nestling Returned and Entrance Reinforced

Mr. After Nestling Returned and Entrance Reinforced

Matthew 10:29-31

New International Version

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

We live in a big world full of remarkable circumstances and moments that change us forever.  Some of these moments can only be described as miraculous and others, on the flip side, devastating.  We are very fragile beings, each one unique and irreplaceable.  Love hugely and in the deepest sense.  And when you feel helpless, pray.