Honor Thy Father

By Dr. Pamela Dykes

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3, Berean Study Bible )

This scripture has always been very important to me because I watched my parents walk this out in their lives for many years. My parents took excellent care of my paternal grandparents and several other elderly relatives. Therefore, I knew that when the time came we would do the same thing and care for our parents in a similar way to honor this tradition. 

In late December of 2013, my father experienced an unexplained mental illness. He eventually made a full recovery but this was the beginning of a notable decline in his health. While he was in the hospital,  my brother made the comment “I don’t know what he will do if mom passes away before him.” At that moment I got a quickening in my spirit and I knew that is exactly what would happen. My mother passed away five years later on May 3, 2018. 

In the weeks preceding my mother’s death, my parents were in the process of moving to Cleveland Ohio to be closer to my brother and his family. My dad lived with them for a year, however, my brothers and I decided that it was best that he relocate to Florida to live with me. One of the last requests my mother made was that we take good care of “Donnie.” I wanted to honor her request but I also wanted to honor him because he was an amazing father to me and my brothers.

Although I was very close to my mother and I miss her dearly, I have always considered myself a “Daddy’s Girl.” My dad was always my biggest supporter and often the source of comfort and joy. I always knew I could count on my dad no matter what the request was.

He helped me move at least 10 times over the course of 10 years to 3 different cities. My dad came to my rescue on several occasions when I got myself into financial trouble when I was in my twenties. In my thirties, he helped my ex-husband and I get our home ready for resale. He and my uncle painted the whole home and he gave us the money to put a sump pump in our basement to prevent flooding. He has also always given me sound practical advice throughout my life and I often depended on him when I made important decisions.

Over the past three years, I have honored my mother’s wishes and I am taking good care of my dad. When he first came to live with me,  it was almost second nature and easy for me to adjust, especially being a single mother.  It was just easy for me to open up my heart and home to include him in my day-to-day life.  

However, as the day’s weeks, months, and years have passed, caregiving has become much more of a challenge and I began to feel the weight of its impact.  The biggest impact has been the mental and emotional challenges associated with caregiving. I have been a nurturer and caregiver to my children for over 23 years, so I thought it would be easy, but nothing really prepares you when the person who used to take care of you now needs your help. Emotionally, this shift in roles has been a source of grief for me. I am grieving that I have gone from “daddy’s little girl” to nurse, cook, maid, and major decision-maker. I have mourned the days when I was just a daughter. Taking care of my dad is also a constant reminder that my mom is gone and that is a source of grief as well. 

Until recently, I tried to do it all myself but I realized that in order to honor my father and take good care of him I had to ask for help and enlist a team of support. I asked my brothers to help me and they both have agreed to take care of dad for a week or a month to give me a break. 

My oldest son just graduated from college and he has begun to help as well. I have also sought help from a counselor to help me cope with the mental and emotional challenges associated with caregiving. I also work with a life coach to help me work on practical solutions to help me overcome the sense of feeling overwhelmed after tackling months of caregiving without help. Acknowledging that I needed help and seeking it out has been transformational for me. I have turned it over to the Lord and I pray and seek the Lord’s help in this situation because I know that the Lord is my source of comfort and joy and is ultimately in control of the situation.  

Father’s Day is a great time to reflect on how we can continue to honor our parents. For me, honoring my parents means taking care of me, acknowledging my feelings, and not taking on the burden by myself.  My prayer is that caregivers dealing with similar feelings do the same. You are strong and capable enough to do this, even on the hard days, and know that God is always with you. 

Dr. Pamela

 Continue to follow our caregiving blog series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/caregivers-corner/

5 Comments

  1. Patricia

    So very relevant for me as I care for my loved one! Help is not dishonor or less love for the one you care for. It allows you to do and be your best in a very stressful situation.

    Reply
    • Melody Monteiro

      Very beautiful tribute!

      Reply
  2. David Descutner

    Thank you, Dr. Porter, for sharing this moving, deeply felt narrative from Dr. Dykes. So authentic, so true, and so resonant. Sharing narratives of love and devotion is itself an act of love.

    Reply
  3. hylton

    Hello Pam (and Jeanne), What a wonderful and moving account. My dad turns 90 next year April, still independent, lives by himself, drives to the store daily but I am sure my turn will come to fill the shoes of caregiver . . . and guess what. . . .I am ready and now even more equipped emotionally after reading Pam’s account. Peace and love always. . . . BOBCATS

    Reply
  4. Satira

    Great read. Thank you for you sharing your heart and your journey.

    Reply

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