By Sabrinia Allen
I took care of my mother for nearly twenty years. And even with the frustrations, I am grateful to have had the opportunity. This is the space where God truly moved, and little did I know I would be challenged in ways I never expected. Out of all the lessons learned while caring for my mother is the importance of patience.
Patience is understanding
I learned that patience is understanding where the person you care for comes from. My mother raised six children, and we never wanted for anything. My mother’s dementia showed up in little ways at first, until one day, she called me and couldn’t remember where she parked.
There had to be an understanding that mom was going through changes as well. There were moments when I could have gotten frustrated when she would forget her surroundings and take things that didn’t belong to her, believing it was hers. I had to understand that she was frustrated as well. Imagine going from being sharp enough to raise kids and manage your household’s money to forgetting basic things. I understood that she could not help it and that this was also a difficult transition for her. Understanding her struggle helped me develop patience and understand what she was going through.
Patience is Understanding your “Why”
My time caring for my mother was filled with simply doing things because I care. My mother asked why on earth I would leave Oak Park and move back to the south side of Chicago. The truth is, I didn’t even think about it. I simply sold my condo and moved next door to her. I also learned that this blind obedience to follow intuition is where God moves!
My “Why” is that I simply loved my mother. My mother took great care of me, and my five siblings, and my father was a great provider. I saw the same love and unconditional care that my mother showed my father when caring for him until he passed. And I did the same as I cared for her.
Patience is in the lessons.
Rather than focusing on the frustration, focus on understanding what God is teaching you. I took my mother to a popular fast-food restaurant for one of her favorite dishes. My mom had a great time. But at the end of our time together, my mother refused to leave. When I tell you, I tried everything. I tried to walk outside and come back, hoping she would follow. I tried talking to her and pleading with her, but nothing worked. My mother kept the same stance. “I am not going anywhere.”
After some time, she finally resolved to leave the restaurant, but what I learned at this moment was how to let go. Sometimes, things work in your favor in ways you don’t realize. I learned that even in the most frustrating moments, I am not in control. God is in control.
Know that in these moments, God is teaching you something. Be still and figure out what it is.
Patience is Unconditional Love
We are being honest here, right? My relationship with my grandmother was challenging, but I watched my mother care for her diligently. She took her everywhere and met all her needs the best she could. I asked my mother how she could do this; because from my perspective, she wasn’t the nicest. And my mother simply replied, “Sabrinia, you only get one (mother).” And this changed my perspective completely. Good, bad, or indifferent, you only get one mother. This can apply to any situation, as you only get one loved one. Cherish the time caring for them, as these are moments you can’t get back.
My mother was also a great example in showing unconditional love to my father. Even at a time when separation was on the horizon and dividing assets was discussed, my mother maintained that my father worked too hard for her to take everything from him. Although they ultimately worked through their issues, and she cared for him until his death, I will never forget this.
Cherish God’s Grace Through the Process
My mother was in hospice for two and a half years. She lived far beyond the life expectancy predicted by the doctors, and I am very grateful for this! God had other plans despite what we were being told. Cherish these wins, and see it as a sign that God is ultimately in control.
Although I did most of my mother’s care, I did have some outside care as well. There was a time, however, when I was frustrated by her care, that I prayed, fasted, and asked God for guidance. I said, “God, please send us someone who knows what they are doing.” My prayers were answered by an experienced Black nurse. She advised us that my mother was dehydrated and that she would not make it if we did not take her to the hospital. I am grateful to her as it allowed us to spend more cherished time with my mother.
My mother lived until 86, and I am grateful for the values she instilled in me and the time I spent caring for her. Patience is truly a virtue, and caregiving is a great way for God to teach us such an important lesson. God is not testing you, he is teaching you.
Continue to follow our caregiving blog series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/caregivers-corner/