The past six weeks I have had my parents with me. They are in their early 80’s, and for the last eight years I have flown them to New Mexico to get them out of the snowy winters of northeastern Ohio. A week after they arrived, my Dad’s health took a downward turn. He ended up in the hospital, three weeks in a skilled nursing center, and then two weeks in my home, until I was finally able to fly them back to the rest of our family four days ago. I share this with you only because of the thoughts I have had while going through this experience.
With the importance of making right decisions and the quick realization of an inadequate knowledge – I desperately held on to the remembrance of the families in my life who have a Special Olympics athlete living in their home. My thoughts about those families centered around “care” – a care different in scope, intensity, and duration. A care unique to each family, yet similar in its heavy responsibility around daily living.
I have felt humbled by an even greater respect for our Special Olympics families, who learn early on that care is not dependent on how you feel, the difficulty of the task, or how time-consuming this may be. This depth of care doesn’t factor in balancing leisure, work, or other family responsibilities – it simply presents needs and demands.
What I know to be true in my own life these past few weeks is this. The on-line dictionary defines care as “a burdened state of mind arising from heavy responsibilities.” But there is a deeper meaning to be found in deeper care, and I embraced it with everything I had because of our families and their strength, unconditional love, and selfless example. Today I am choosing to write my own definition of care – a sacrificial blessing that happens in gratitude for those who God has given us to care for.
My sincere thanks to our families for setting a standard I tried hard to meet. You continue to be an inspiration to me, and my life and my families life takes on greater meaning because of you.