Strength Comes in Many Forms and a Sunday Saying . . .

The other day, my husband and I went to visit my mother in law in the nursing home that she's been in for almost four months now. She is the mother of my first husband and I have remained very close to she and my father in law. About a year and a half after my first husband passed away she suffered a stroke. It was a mild stroke. In fact, she didn't even know she had a stroke. She started to slur her words a bit and I noticed she looked very tired and was dragging a little bit. I suggested to my inlaws that she should get checked out by her doctor. They ran a bunch of tests and it came back that she had had a mild stroke. She started to get better. Her speech began to improve but she still looked like she was dragging. She is only in her 60's and used to keep going from the time she woke up until she fell into bed. Always doing for other people. Cleaning houses for people, washing and ironing the alter linens at her church, knitting blankets for Birth Right, going to Seniors with my father in law and on and on and on. Then she had another stroke that left her a bit more incapacitated. She went to therapy several times a week and started to get a little stronger and was learning to walk with a walker. During this time, she had several falls. She broke her shoulder in one fall. The next fall she fell and cracked several ribs. Then she fell again and had to get staples in her head. The last time she fell, she compound fractured her ankle which is why she's currently in a nursing home. My father in law can't care for her at home and there are too many steps in their house for her so she couldn't even make it into the house at this point.

My father in law has been having his own health problems for many years but has been doing well with each procedure he has to correct the problems. A week ago, he had two stents put in his leg to fix a blocked artery. The recovery has been much more difficult than anticipated so I've been going to see my mother in law more often and have been bringing her clothes and washing her dirty laundry and bringing her diet sodas and anything else she wants. She cries now when I leave. My husband and I watched from the doorway as she was working with her therapist the other day. The therapist had her up and trying to walk while holding on to two bars for support. My mother in law can't even hold her head up anymore when she's walking. It's a very difficult thing for me to watch. My hormones from pregnancy added to my love for my inlaws leaves me with a broken heart for her. For both of them for that matter. We kissed her goodbye and she started to cry. I didn't see it, thankfully, but my husband did. When we made it out into the parking lot I sobbed. I told my husband that I can't go there and see her like that right now. I'm not strong enough emotionally. I take pride in the fact that I've been thru a lot the last five years and have come out the other side a much better and stronger person. I've lost a husband who was 40, a father who was 59 and a step-father who was 62. All died very suddenly and within a year of each other. Then my youngest sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer spread to her liver. She is doing tremendously well which is nothing short of a miracle. You think that your family is safe from tragedy for a while when you lose three members in three years but, lo and behold, it's not. Nobody is immune to tragedy and tomorrow is never promised.

When we left the nursing home the other day, I told my husband that I can't go back there for a while. I consider it taking care of myself. Right now, I'm not strong enough to put on a happy face for my mother in law who knows she's never going home. She knows it in her heart and that is why she cries now. I also believe that when her son died, a part of her died with him. A part of her just shut down.

After my father passed away, I had a tough time. I was so shot emotionally. I hadn't yet met my wonderful "new" husband and I was a single parent. I was still dealing with losing my husband but started to feel like I was getting back into life again when my father passed. I was strong when it came to some things and not so strong when it came to other things. My 16 year old dog needed to be put to sleep and I just couldn't handle it. I knew in my heart that I couldn't handle it. My mother offered to take her to be put down and I threw in the flag and told her yes. I do feel guilty sometimes for not being there when she passed but I know that my mother was wonderful with her and everything was peaceful. I was taking care of myself when I let my mother take her.

I found this passage in The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie and I thought it was perfect for connecting my words with Sunday Sayings. It's titled "Strength."

" We don't always have to be strong to be strong. Sometimes, our strength is expressed in being vulnerable. Sometimes, we need to fall apart to regroup and stay on track.
We all have days when we cannot push any harder, cannot hold back self-doubt, cannot stop focusing on fear, cannot be strong.

There are days when we cannot focus on being responsible. Occasionally, we don't want to get out of our pajamas. Sometimes, we cry in front of people. We expose our tiredness, irritability or anger.

Those days are okay. They are just okay.

Part of taking care of ourselves means we give ourselves permission to "fall apart" when we need to. We do not have to be perpetual towers of strength. We are strong. We have proven that. Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak and vulnerable when we need to experience those feelings. "

God bless all of you who are looking for strength in your life right now.

Many blessings ~ Wendy


Gina @ The Shabby Chic Cottage said...

Your words have touched me today. My own mother in law is in the hospital, waiting for a space to open up so she can go to a nursing home.

I have also lost my father, so I've been in that situation, too.

I think the hardest to lose was my six month old granddaughter (last year). It still breaks my heart to this day.

Big hugs to you, my friend. That's a wonderful passage -- Thanks so much for sharing it.

Cute Beams said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It was a blessing for me to read today.

Cat Nap Inn Primitives said...

Thanks for the wonderful words Wendy..it puts things in perspective and really makes you think..I am sorry to hear about your MIL..I don't live close by my mom and that is hard at times..so need to make more of an effort to do so..:)

beth said...

that quote and your story brought tears to my eyes...it's so hard to take of our elderly parents or in-laws...as I can only imagine
since we aren't even there yet, but I think about it all the time and wonder how we'll do it.

the previous post...I'm so glad you've had an ultrasound done and know there is only one baby in there...although I do think twins are the greatest thing ever and always wanted to be one...

anyhow...a good fast heartbeat...I bet it's a girl !

Sue@MyArtsDesire said...

Thank you for visiting. Your post today is a tear-jerker. Life can be sooooooo hard and as your story indicated, sometimes it comes in huge waves, one after the other. Bless your heart for your kindness and compassion, and the wisdom to know when you need to pull back.

JGH said...

I'm sorry to hear about everything that you've been going through, Wendy. To this day I still think about some of the heartwrenching scenes when I said goodbye to my grandmother at the nursing home. Wishing you strength and peace of mind.

Lynn Richards said...

Oh, Wendy, my heart aches for you. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.
Please don't feel guilty for taking care of yourself. (look who's talking, I could use my own advice.) There are so many ways you can show your mother-in-law how much you love her. Sending her things, praying, writing notes...
You have been through so much and yes, it's ok to not be strong for everyone and let someone hold YOU.
love, Lynn

fel4u said...

Dear Wendy,

my english aren't good and I am not sure if I can express my feelings right.
Actually I read your post 1 hour ago but I couldn't write anything.I was crying.....I was crying cause I remembered all the fights I had with my mother in law....I was crying cause I remembered my precious grandmother who passed away many years ago bu I loved her soooo much.....I was crying cause I am afraid to loose the people I love........I was crying for you cause you have so much power to deal with all these.
On the other hand I know that life goes on an if I understand right you are pregnant.A new life is coming and will bring joy and more love to you and your family.
I wish you the best ♥

pinkfairygran said...

I can understand why emotionally you feel you can't cope right now with everything. I find it amazing what we can actually cope with, when push comes to shove. Things we think we could never imagine getting through in one piece, yet we do. I look back on a period in my life back when I was in my mid-twenties to early thirties, when my gran died, my mother died just a few days after her 50th birthday, my husband died suddenly aged 29, my favourite uncle died aged 60 and my father aged 55. The first two deaths came within weeks of each other, then 18 months later my husband, two years later my uncle and then my father. I also had a difficult birth with my youngest son, he had the cord around his neck and my heart stopped momentarily, at the same time as my mother lay dying hundreds of miles away. Too much to cope with when I look back, yet cope I had to. As we all do, and the support of friends is SUCH a comfort, don't you think?

Kathy said...

Big hugs my friend. I know how trying that one year was for you. I am so glad that you have Jim to help you through this struggle. I am going to keep those Sunday Saying words close to my heart.

Love you.

cindy said...

I needed to hear this. My Mom passed away about a year and nine mos ago. I'm much better now, but at that time, I did the same thing. I literally shut down. My job was kind enough to let me take a few mos off, at the time I thought it was good. I grieved. (At times I seem like I'm an open book, but for some things I'm very private). Lately, I've been 2nd guessing myself over that time, feeling guilty. I lost some friends because of it. They could not understand my shutting myself away. Now that I'm me again, there are just some things that don't work anymore and I feel great guilt. Soo....now that I've written War and Peace here...let me just say thank you. Thank you for reducing some of the feelings that have been on my mind for the past several weeks.
yapping cat

nesting melly said...

wendy, what a strong soul you are. even amidst all that you have been through you still shine every time i see you. thank you for sharing your story because i believe we all can relate in some way. while reading your post all i could think of is what a gift this child is to you and your family. pat and i have been through a great loss and have dealt with big health issues on my part but somehow we made it through and now we have tressa whose nickname is "our rainbow" because she came after such a storm. anyway, do take good care of yourself. and thank you for your law of attraction reminder which came at such the right moment. i too strongly believe yet sometimes i forget. i am awaiting the results of an mri. i know that it will be ok but the what ifs creep in and get me so beside myself - so when you wrote that i quickly got myself back on track! :)

J from Ireland said...

Wow that is just heartbreaking. You sound like such a lovely person. That quote was lovely. I am going now to read through your archives!! Best wishes Wendy and thank you for commenting on my "blog".

cindymeguiar@yahoo.com said...

I am sitting at my desk in my classroom at the end of a very long day and an even longer week. The kids are gone and I am just taking a breath and catching up on my blog stuff. You will never know how much I needed to hear those words .....right now. Thank you so much for sharing!