We arrived back in Germany early yesterday morning. I am finding coming back to Germany to be really tough on my body because we always arrive so early in the morning (around 7 or 8am). It’s so hard to stay up all day long when I’ve had so little sleep for more than 24 hours. Whenever I’ve come back from Japan it’s always been around 8-10pm so I could go right to bed. Anyway, our flight went well and I was able to sleep for more than three hours which I consider to be terrific. I love when Delta gives you a personalized TV to watch movies, documentaries, or TV although the selection wasn’t very interesting on this particular flight. I was forced to watch half of a lame chick-flick called, “Something Borrowed” starring Kate Hudson (please don’t bother watching it). Upon arrival at Frankfurt, we waited almost two hours for our train; we arrived in our new home, Ewersbach, around 2pm. We are very thankful that we have a beautiful, cozy little apartment to ourselves and a small VW that we are free to use. The view from our window, perfect and picturesque, is exactly like a postcard and the air is crisp and clear. We are surrounded by trees and forests and gorgeous German houses; there are lots of walking paths to enjoy and explore which will keep us in shape.
People asked us all summer long what we will be doing here in Ewersbach. Frankly, we’re not exactly sure. We are supposed to be preparing to go back to Japan. Matthias will take some classes and help organize some events and I will use the time to study German and Japanese among other things. We are living at the headquarters of the German mission that will hopefully support us to go back to Japan and we are so thankful for such a wonderful place to stay for a while. We are on schedule (and hoping) to go back long-term next year if the mission approves us, but since my father’s health is deteriorating so rapidly, we are not sure whether we can and/ or should try to go back. I’ve stopped trying to figure out “what we’re going to do,” because I just don’t have the faintest idea how God is going to work everything out. I trust that in time we’ll know exactly what to do and make wise choices with God’s help.
Being home this summer was simply wonderful. Seeing my father failing was not wonderful, but there were so many beautiful moments of laughter and fun with my mom and dad despite his dementia and crazy little idiosyncrasies. He still has a sense of humor and there were definitely moments when I laughed until I cried at something goofy that he said.
It is soooo quiet here in Ewersbach. It’s hard to adjust to having so much quiet time after having been a full-time caregiver to my parents for the past few months. Being a caregiver to your parent is quite a painful, yet deeply rewarding experience. I know that “somewhere out there” millions of grieving adult children are doing the same thing. For me, it was a real blessing to be able to live out “honoring your father and mother.”
What does it look like to be a caregiver? For me it meant: waking up at 3am to help dad to the bathroom. Waking up at 5am to the sound of a loud sound…did he fall? No, he dropped the BJ’s-sized peanut butter on the floor. Changing a bandage for the 20th time. Always checking to see that he took his meds…and fighting with him to make him take those meds. Helping dad sit down and stand up ten times in one afternoon. Making midnight treats for dad – usually fruit milkshakes or German porridge with berries. Sitting with him and trying to figure out what he’s trying to say because his speech is slurred and no one else can understand him. Explaining what dad is feeling to the rest of the family. Cooking dinner and cutting up the meal into bite-sized chunks like I would for a child. Explaining to dad what the neurologist said in a way he can understand. Asking dad every morning, “How are you feeling today, daddy?”
I miss taking care of my dad. I know that care giving is not for everyone and it tests your patience to the breaking point. I am thankful it was such a joy for me, and although it was torturous to leave my parents behind, I am so very happy that we’ll be home for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to it!