Below, you can see the carnage of our recent auto accident. We are blessed to have survived and to have the assurance that we should fully recover. In the meantime, there are daily difficulties that arise from being limited because of injuries. I don’t want to write this in an ungrateful spirit, because my wife and I are so thankful for the kindnesses, meals, rides, errands, and many other tangible expressions of love from the Providence Extension Program (PEP) community where we both serve.
Perhaps I’m reading the wrong book for this time in our lives, but I’m listening to Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. Broadly speaking, Gawande writes about the intersection between medicine and aging, and often finds that treating aging and its complications according to a medical model results in a tradeoff between safety and quality of life. Gawande’s narrative is mostly comprised of the stories of people as they age, and are confronted with physical, medical, and lifestyle challenges that accompany growing older.
The experience I’m sharing with those in Gawande’s narrative is that because of the injuries sustained by my wife and me, everything takes longer and is much more complicated. Even daily tasks such as laundry, finding clothes to wear, driving when I’m sufficiently between doses of pain medicine, making sure that Amy’s medications are within reach and organized, and having to take frequent breaks from working guarantee that productivity is a dirty word to me. A couple of experiences have really surprised me about all of this.
I’m surprised by the amount of joy that caring for my wife gives me. Amy and I took care of my sister for over a year. Much of that time, Cathy was more dependent on others than Amy is. Being in a position to help my wife has been the greatest joy of the accident, and an experience that makes me hopeful for the years ahead.
I’m surprised at how easily little things can upset me. People have cooked for us and brought us dinner almost every night. Most of the meals have been delicious, and even people who live far away (45 minutes or more!) have gone out of their way to help us. But last night, I almost broke down because I wanted to have the foods that we used to cook before the accident. Since the accident was right in the aftermath of our trip to Peru, we haven’t eaten a meal that we have cooked in five weeks. Again, the sheer generosity of people is overwhelming! Most of us would love to be in this position! But the combination of missing the foods that we have made in the past and my inability to prepare them almost caused me to have a meltdown!
Unfortunately, I’ve been difficult to live with. The last thing Amy needs is a cantankerous husband! I need to pause and take a deep breath more often. Amy and I are well cared for. Our children couldn’t be more sympathetic or helpful. But pain and loss of function are difficult realities. I’m hoping that this isn’t a foreshadowing of what old age will look like for me. God is showing me how much I need to grow in grace for us to have a gracious, happy, and peaceful home, which is something that with His help, we can achieve no matter what our limitations are.