Of course, we could do better, but we usually don’t. We need a savior. St. Paul notes our predicament and then identifies the solution and it is not us.
For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:22-25)
The Way Things Appear to Me Now
As my father aged, he would tell me by phone that I needed to know and understand the various afflictions he underwent. That way I would be prepared, as his flesh and blood, when I would most likely later experience the same or similar difficulties.
Thus, he would tell me about his declining vision, the pain in his feet, his proclivity to eat cookies several times a night, his depression and worries, his insecurities. He told me of his life disappointments and regrets, especially about the poor relationship he had with his own father, who had been orphaned at 9-years.
However, I do not think he meant to caution me about his delusions, in which my 92-year-old father is now firmly fixated. The most disturbing of these is the delusion that my 92-year-old mother has had a long convoy of truck-driver lovers over the 69 years of their marriage. These grew in my Dad out of suspicions of infidelity which he had held for many years and which he only disclosed as he slipped further into dementia.
None of my six brothers, sisters and I can ever recall seeing a truck driver at out house, or our mother going out in a truck. My mother only learned to drive after fifteen years of marriage, and rarely went anywhere except to church or to our schools.
In the old days before Fed-Ex and Amazon, the only reason a truck showed up at anyone’s house was because they were putting their furniture in a moving van to move off the block.
When I was 5 and we moved from the city of Wilmington, Delaware to its suburbs, all our relatives showed up in cars (no trucks) to help us re-locate. My parents still live on that suburban block, except that Dad is in a nursing home because he began to physically abuse Mom over her alleged affairs.
I regret Dad’s being in a nursing home. I had left Hawaii to care for him two years ago. I stayed for seven months when the onset of my wife’s illness required me to return home.
While I lived with Mom and Dad, I could watch for brewing tensions between them and separate Dad when it looked like he was going to threaten or possibly get in Mom’s face. I believed that I was helping him avoid institutionalization.
Five months after I left, Dad went into the long-care nursing home, where he has been now for a year. Dad physically abused Mom once in that period that we know of, which led us to institutionalize him. The emotional abuse was also a factor, but Mom and Dad would often exchange heated insults over the years and that did not seem enough to warrant their forced separation.
When I now talk to him by phone, he is usually disoriented and confused. At first, he believed he would only be staying in the facility for a short period, until, that is, my mother would confess to him about her affairs.
I wish I could be with him and perhaps take him out of the nursing home. The holidays are difficult for me with his being shut-off from his family. He worked all his life to provide for us. He built a nest-egg to care for him and Mom should they live into their nineties. They each share family tendencies supporting long life.
I know it is a difficult situation for most everyone in our family.
I Think, Though, We Could Do Better
Yet, we do not trust in ourselves, our “help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2) “The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:17)