To describe the past few months of our lives at the Cook household would take far more letters than can be written in one post. Like so many of you, my husband and I have found ourselves living right smack in the middle of the sandwich generation. It is almost as if you go to sleep one night only to wake up the next morning to mostly grown up children struggling to find their way in this world and aging parents with health issues. I so want to play both roles, that of devoted mother and devoted child, well. Only with God's help will I be able to do either.
This past Saturday, we watched as our middle son married his childhood sweetheart. I couldn't be more proud of the man he has become. Months of planning and preparation unfolded before us in a beautiful and moving ceremony performed by both families mutual pastor. My husband is my son's step-father, but an outsider would never know it. He has embraced my children as his own while at the same time he has respectfully and graciously acknowledged their father's role in their lives. Only a few minutes into the reception we received the call that my father-in-law (Bill) was gravely ill and had been placed on life support. I watched as my husband compartmentalized his thoughts and emotions so as not to dampen the spirit of the newly married couple as they celebrated their new life together surrounded by friends and family.
After sleeping a few hours, going home to unpack and repack, we made the 10 hour trip to the hospital to see my-father-law. We prayed all the way there that we would make it in time for Danny to say proper good-byes. We walked into the ICU unit at 11:50 p.m. on Father's Day. I watched as my husband told his beloved dad good-bye and prayed to the God his father had introduced him to so many years before. The next morning upon returning to the hospital we were shocked to see a remarkable recovery taking place before our very eyes. As he was given blood to replace what he had lost, you could almost see Bill get better moment by moment. By Monday afternoon Bill was coherent enough to ask about the wedding. I told him it was beautiful and made the statement "it is good to be young and in love", he said "Hon, it is good to be old and in love." I felt then that once again he had beaten the Dr's odds.
That evening we moved Danny's dad to a hospital "in town" where his oncologist could be near and treat him. Again, I watched as my husband graciously and compassionately dealt with the delicate issues of his dad's end of life decisions. He never once wavered in his compassion to show his father respect, to make sure his dignity was intact, and to include his sister and step-mother in the decision making process. It is a very fragile dance.
On Tuesday afternoon we received the call that my husband's step-sister had been killed in a car wreck. She had been at the hospital with us only the night before. Once again, I watched as my husband graciously and compassionately dealt with his father's and step-mother's emotions and needs. You see, Catherine and Bill were both widowed when they met over 30 years ago. They have a beautiful love story. They managed to build a life together surrounded by a large blended family of his kids and her kids who were all mostly grown by then. They respected and loved each other's children and honored the memories of their deceased spouses well. The world would do well to have more people like them.
Yesterday, (Friday) my husband settled his dad into a skilled nursing facility. We then attended the funeral of a step-sister his exact age. Once again, I watched as he compassionately offered his condolences to his extended, blended family.
I didn't think it possible but it's true, I've fallen in love with my husband all over again over this past week and the months leading up to the wedding. He has worked tirelessly and without complaint to help the kids have the wedding and a good start to their new life. I was always that young wife who fought submission. I never fully understood it from God's perspective. Only when I studied the true meaning of Biblical submission did I begin to see God's plan. God has called my husband to be my spiritual leader. The Bible says that Danny's prayers will not be heard if he fails to love me as God has commanded. Being the spiritual head of anyone is a tremendous responsibility. Being my spiritual leader is a job for a very strong, very secure man. Luckily, my man lives up to his responsibility. My job is to make his job easier. By being is helpmate, by supporting him and respecting him, I am living up to the responsibility God has called me to. I'm sure there are theologians out there who would scoff at my elementary description of submission. That's okay, I'm no theologian. I am just a Jesus girl who is thankful that God has given me a man who loves God, loves me, loves our children, loves our parents and leads us all well. I can follow that lead.
1 Peter 3: 1-7