Deuteronomy 5:16 – Watching My Wife Take Care of Her Parents

Posted: December 27, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 5:16

Honor Your Father and Mother

She sometimes gets up at 4am so that she can leave Lyman in enough time to pick up her mother at her mother’s assisted living facility in Gastonia and take her to an 8am doctor’s appointment. She sometimes has to get up in the middle of the night and go to Gastonia when her mother is sent to the emergency room. This is the life of my wife at times. Her dad is in a skilled care nursing home also, though he requires less “management” than her mom. Her parents are 91 (her dad) and 84 (her mom) years old, respectively. They live about an hour and fifteen minutes away from us in the Charlotte, NC area. It is not always easy to be the go-to child when it comes to her parent’s care but that is the way of things when you are the only daughter among four siblings.


The roles have been reversed almost as you watch my wife with her parents. Sometimes, she must be forceful with them by saying this is the way things are going to be. Sometimes, she has to scold them when they are acting childishly. It is no glamorous thing to have aging parents. There will be no news conferences for my wife lauding her for the care and attention that she gives her parents. There will be no medals or awards. When we of the baby boomer generation, the me generation, have aging parents, it tests our resolve to not be selfish and frustrated at the constant care that our parents will need as they grow older. When their health starts to fail and they require day to day maintenance, how are you and going to react. Are you going to be ready for the daily grind and constant care that is needed for an aging parent? Are you going to abdicate that full responsibility to a nursing home and forget about your parents and go visit them once or twice a month for an hour or are you going to dive in and do the dirty work on constantly checking on their care, taking them to doctor’s appointments, sitting with them, talking to them, being there for them?


We honor our parents in their old age by giving them the same attention and constant care that they gave us while they were raising us to adulthood. Regardless of what we thought of our parents’ parenting skills growing up, regardless of how we rebelled against it after we left home, there will come a day when we have a choice to shuck our responsibility to be actively involved in the care of our aging parents or embrace it as a way to honor our parents for what they have done for us. There were scary dreams that they comforted. There thousands of diapers they changed for us. There were the broken hearts massaged when that perfect boyfriend or girlfriend dumped us. There were those times when we got stranded by our friends and they came and got us. There were those times that we got in trouble that they simply picked us up and took us home (discussions and restrictions to be dealt down later). There were all those inconvenient ball games or school events that they came to. There were tough times and the good times. They were there and they were present. There were graduations where they beamed with pride. There were weddings where they cried at the passing of time. There were births of grandchildren where their spirits soared.


My wife often talks about the dysfunction of her family growing up living in a home where dad was a poor man’s doctor. They were foreigners living in the South of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who did their best to fit into the culture they adopted. They tried to live the lifestyle of a wealthy doctor but whose practice served the lowly and downtrodden of the area. It was all a strain and so hard on a family trying to fit into Southern culture of the times. The growing up years were tough. But there were good memories of boating trips on the lake, vacations in New Orleans, vacations in her mom’s home country of Venezuela. But as soon as she was old enough she married and got out of the house. There were many years of struggling with the way she was raised. She had a difficult relationship with her mother for many of my wife’s adult years. She loved her mom but there was always the mother-daughter thing between them. It was not until the last 8 or 9 years that my wife simply let go and saw that her mom was not perfect and that she never was going to be. Now, my wife simply loves her mom because she is her mom not because she is trying to make her mom measure up to some ideal. She cares for her mom. She cries over what is happening to her mom’s health. She does all that needs to be done for her mom without expectation of a thank you. That is what true love is. That’s what parents do for their children growing up and that is what we should be doing for our parents as the age.


It was this idea of watching my wife take care of her mom and dad from somewhat of a long-distance and how that is honoring to her parents that I thought of this morning when I read the passage/verse for today Deuteronomy 5:16 which says:


16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.


I think that what I see with the way my wife honors her parents as they age is what we all have to come to with our parents. Sure, there will be frustrations with our parents but we just have to love them. We love them as the imperfect creatures of God that they are. We give them grace as we have been given grace. We realize that they did they best that they could with the talents that God gave them. Because they are imperfect and sinful creatures just like us, they made and make mistakes with us. They are not perfect. We often give others grace that we will not give our parents. They deserve grace too. Certainly, there are some of us who came from abusive homes or homes where our parents were not godly people and sometimes, in those cases, we have a lot to forgive. And I know that such forgiveness is hard to come by. However, we have been forgiven much as sinners before God through Jesus Christ. We sometimes just have to give that anger at abusive parents over to God. We forgive. We may not give that type of parent complete access to our lives but we can forgive. We must forgive as we have been forgiven.


For those of us lucky enough to have lived in homes where our parents were not abusive or sinister to us, we have to forgive imperfections as well. We simply must realize that our parents are just as human and flawed as we are and just love them for having loving us and cared for us. When we realize that they are imperfect and just love them anyway, what freedom there is in that. In that way, we can care for them in love as they grow old. Taking care of them becomes our way of honoring them. We just love them. It no longer becomes an imposition, it becomes our way of honoring their existence. It becomes our way of saying thank you for having wiped our butts for more times than we can count. It becomes our way of demonstrating grace, the grace that we have been given through Jesus Christ.


Amen and Amen.

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