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The Journey Through the Valley

By Belinda

 Just as our household was stirring awake on a cold winter morning, the phone rang downstairs. It was 7.00 a.m. on Tuesday the 2nd of December, 2003, 8 days after Mum had come back home from hospital.

I heard Rob's voice on the other end of the phone line; he usually called at night to give updates on Mum--I knew this couldn't be good news. He told me that Mum was on her way to hospital in an ambulance.

As he recounted the circumstances, they broke my heart. 

The house that Mum and Dad had shared in Snake Lane for their last years together after moving from Bear Hill, was old and very basic. I would guess that it had been built at least 80 years earlier. 

When I visited them in the month of October for the years they were there, I would sleep under layers of blankets because it was so cold. If it was -3 outside, it was not much warmer inside, and I remember once, writing on a postcard to family back in Canada that I felt as though I was sleeping out on the side of a hill. 

The windows were draughty and the only heat upstairs was a wall electric fire in the bathroom, which we would use sparingly to avoid freezing during our ablutions! Downstairs there were two gas fires, the only other source of heat. Like the one upstairs, they were used sparingly.

Rob had been stopping by to check on Mum each morning as he rode his motorbike to work at the Rover Motor Company. When he had arrived that morning, he found that Mum had fallen at around 2.00 a.m. as she had tried to reach her commode. She had managed to take off her soaked clothes as she lay there on the floor, but she was unable to get up. She had lain there, shivering, for 5 hours by the time Rob found her.

Mum's Life Line lay near her but she had been either too confused or in too much pain to press the button that would have summoned help.

Immediately Rob set about getting Mum warm and calling for help. The doctor who arrived and examined her didn't like the sound of her lungs, so he facilitated her admission to hospital. Rob said that there were warnings of a flu epidemic to come in England and the doctor didn't want to take any chances.

I imagined Mum, suddenly so vulnerable and helpless, and I prayed with all my heart that she would not be one of those elderly people you read about, on a stretcher in a hallway, seemingly forgotten and alone, waiting for treatment. I prayed that God would be with her and that she would soon be settled into a warm bed, with all her needs cared for, and room mates that were not disruptive.

I had never imagined that Mum would have to suffer so much in her old age. She had lived a life of suffering, one way and another, and I had hoped that she would end her days with the comfort, friendship and happy times that she was so deserving of.

How helpless and far away I felt. Our home in Canada was brightly lit and decorated for Christmas. Our children and grandchildren were close by. This all felt like such a contrast to the struggle that Rob and Mum were engaged in.

Writing about that time, 9 years ago now, I see that God gave us the strength for each day as it came. It was good that we took one day at a time and didn't look too far ahead. 

To be continued...


Anonymous said…
I have been told by my mother that I was a "why girl". I always asked why. And not in that sing-song way small children often chant their "why?" - but in earnest. I really wanted to know the rationale behind things. This penchant of mine is also reflected in my report cards in school - starting as early as Kindergarten. I must have been a perplexing child indeed.

As I persued education I again questioned the reason for everything. I love to learn and this seemed the natural progression.

Maturing brought more questionsas I furthered my education and as I accumulated years of experience. I developed a platform of function that seemed to work well - and was open to new ideas and ways - but you would have to tell me why I needed to make the change - explain why the new way would be better. Still annoying no doubt :-).

Yet the biggest why of all comes from suffering. If I am reading between the lines with your parents - there may have been rough waters - which may translate to personal "hell" for one of the parties. I only speak so bravely, because I too am in such a situation. You throw in family deaths, illness, accident, loss of job, loss of ability, loss of many joys, loss of most of my sigh, disease after disease - and you have my life.

I now pester our poor Heavenly Father - "Why Lord, why?" I say pester "tongue in cheek" as I know He loves and longs for us to speak to Him - but I put the "long" in "longsuffering". I am so thankful for His patience with me - and His sense of humor.

Those type of "why's" never seem to get answered - and may not this side of glory.

When I read of the trials of your mom, who already had a "hard" life - you can't help but ask why her. She deserved honor and dignity. It is so hard to understand, even in reflection.

Yet I am sure that now your mom sees things clearly, as promised in His word. And we have to trust that all will be revealed to us.
Belinda said…
Friend, you painted such a vivid picture of yourself as a child that it made me smile! :)

One thing I know to be true about suffering; that God truly is Immanuel--God with us. Suffering just "is" in this world.

But thanks be to God that there are also so many joys along the way, and while the part of the journey in this post was a valley, there were blessings and things to be so grateful for as well.

God gave you an inquiring mind. What a gift!

Thank you for continuing the journey here with me and sharing your thoughts.
Brave Raven said…
I'm just finishing Phillips Yancey's book on suffering "Where's God When It Hurts." It helped me a great deal. I came to understand that, as you said Belinda, suffering just "is." Even though He allows suffering, there is no malicious intent on His part. In this life we will suffer with or without Christ. At least with Christ it is bearable and we can take comfort in knowing He's been there too.
Belinda said…
Yes, dear Brave Raven. There is even a fellowship in suffering, knowing that he experienced suffering willingly for our sake because he loved us so much.

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