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Weep Rather for Yourselves

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When I heard the news that my father has been wheelchair stricken I was very disturbed. It did not come as a surprise because from my previous visits, I could see that his legs were becoming more and more deformed from the effects of arthritis. He had to move very slowly in order not to lose his balance.

I knew that even in his old age, my father values the freedom to do activities on his own very much. On the phone, he sounded very frustrated when he related how he was not able to go out to buy food, attend to his banking needs, buy medicines and vitamins or just taking walks outdoors anymore.

All this while, he had been preparing food, medicines and insulin injections for my mother who has diabetes. But he would not accept any help from me except for a small sum financially.

The fearful thoughts raced through my mind – who is going to do all that now? My brother who is staying with them does not seem to show much interest in helping around the house – or so it seemed to me.

So my wife and children went with me to visit them the next day. My parent’s house is in another town about 170 kilometers away. We had previously suggested that they come to stay with us. We see it as a solution out of the mess, having more helping hands to care for them, but somehow they refused.

While driving in the car, the thought struck me, “Why did they not inform me about the situation they were in?” My father’s legs became too weak about 3 days ago, and they had managed to borrow a wheelchair from the old folks home nearby.

When we arrived at my parent’s home, the sight that I saw saddened me. My father was struggling with his wheelchair, trying to maneuver it as best as he can – and trying to show that he can manage the situation all by himself. But the furniture keeps obstructing his way. I could sense his frustration, but he refused to allow us to push him around.

Then I saw him patiently preparing medicines for my mother. She could not see very well because her eyes are already partly blind due to the effects of diabetes. My father was so gentle with her, coaxing her to take her medicines like a small child.

My brother was not at home at that time. My parents suggested that I take my family to eat lunch outside because there was nothing in the house for us. On the way out, I met my brother. He had walked all the way to the nearby shopping mall and back because he could not use my father’s old car.

He was carrying a newly bought computer chair, those with little wheels at the base, all by himself for at least 1 to 2 kilometers distance in the hot sun! He had other goods with him too, mostly food stuffs. When he saw us, he greeted us and seemed cheerful about this.

At that moment, I became very proud of my brother. In the face of adversity, he had shown great presence of mind and practicality. He told us about the activities he had done and what he had focused on – buying and cooking food, getting a wheelchair, getting my mother to the hospital for her checkup, and now getting a rolling computer chair for my father. He also voiced out that there were many other things that needed sorting out and that he will work things out one by one.

But my wife, children and I could not see it in the same light. After we have left the house, our thoughts were on trying to fix things for them so that they can be more comfortable coping in that situation.

We noticed that their old clock was lying on the floor and my father had told us that he could not fix it. So we bought a new wall clock for them. Then we bought a new toilet seat so that I can install it for him. Then we shopped around for some hardware for installing a shower head, hose and water tap. My wife kept on saying that the house is in bad shape and that nobody cleans up the dust.

When we went back to the house with all the hardware, we found that they were not appreciated. My father would rather not use them. I could sense the disappointment in my children’s faces. To them, all they wanted was to help in some way or another – in a way that they thought best. How mistaken can we get!

When it was time for us to go, the whole family prayed together. We prayed earnestly, knowing all the while that we could not do much by ourselves but depended so much on our Heavenly Father in Heaven. But what I heard spoken struck me much later on, after I had arrived back at my own home.

My mother was praying for my family and me, asking for safe journey and blessings for us! My father and brother were not praying for themselves, but for everybody else, and especially for my mother, who still had feelings of deep hurts from her past!

As I lay in bed pondering about this the next morning, the sobering truth dawn upon me. My father loves my mother so much! In sickness and in health he still attends to her, making sure that she does not succumb to the effects of sugar imbalance, all the while suffering in silence as she hurls all sorts of hurtful hallucinating accusations back at him. My brother also takes on the brunt of many hurtful remarks while staying with them but I know that he loves them very much too.

And the prayers that they said were for others. How great is their love! And then I realized the reason why they did not let me know about their situation was also because they loved me and did not want to trouble me if they can help it!

Theirs was a love in action and outsiders like my family and I could not fully understand unless we are totally immersed in it. Who are we to give advice?

It was a humbling experience for me. I have tried to see their situations in the light of my own experiences, was quick to pass judgment, and was perhaps too far from them to see it their way. For all the good intentions that I made, sometimes I forget that I could be the one needing help from God.

The expression from Jesus, says it all when He was on his way to die.

“…but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep rather for yourselves and for your children…” (Luke 23:28)


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