Today, we have a special guest post from LWCC attendee Doris Evans. Doris was kind enough to share her story about how God has been working in her life in 2020. Thank you so much for sharing, Doris!
It had been a very long goodbye to my mother, age 91, who was suffering with dementia. For 4 years my husband and I would make the trip to Bedford, PA to clean, do laundry, and do whatever else my father, age 95 and living at home, would need before we all made our way to the nursing home to visit my mother. My parents were married for almost 70 years. They loved the Lord and spent their lives serving and giving to others. They also loved each other. For almost 4 years my father drove twice a day to the nursing home to visit my mother and make sure she was getting the care she needed. Rain, snow, ice—it did not matter, Dad was there. Every night before my parents went to bed they recited the Lord’s Prayer out loud for their entire marriage. Even with Mom in the nursing home, Dad would call her around 9:00 pm so they could continue saying the prayer together. When my mother’s mind could no longer remember the words, Dad still said the prayer by himself.
On February 12, I was visiting my mother. There was something different about this visit. She was growing weaker with each passing week. While my mother never forgot who I was, I’m not sure she remembered the visits. On this visit, I stroked her hand, just as she had done mine as a little girl. There was no need for words as the touch said it all. When it was time to leave, I got close to her face and said, “I love you.” She took both hands and grabbed both of my cheeks and pulled me even closer. She looked through me with those eyes and said, “I love you, too.” When I got in the car and cried. I knew that was going to be the last time I saw her, yet I also had a peace that only God could give. I was given a chance to tell my mom one last time how much I loved her. Not everyone has that opportunity. Six days later she took her last breath.
With my mother’s passing, I had a job to do. I knew the weight of the world was on my shoulders for helping my dad through all of the funeral preparations and the funeral itself. God showed up over and over again that week. He gave me a strength that week that I had never felt before. As I stayed with my Dad, and listened to stories that I had never heard before about him in his early days, and just took over everything that needed to be done, again God was there.
I wrote the eulogy for my mother’s funeral service. As I practiced early each morning, I was never able to get very far without sobbing. The church was packed, and my anxiety was high as I thought about standing up there, and I just kept praying that God would take over. When I stepped up to the podium and looked over that crowd, every last ounce of anxiety and nervousness left my body. A peace just filled me. I was very aware of every word I spoke with calmness and purpose. God was with me.
As I sat back down beside my father, who was never one to offer any praise, he simply laid his shaking hand on my leg and patted it with all the praise he could offer. It had been a long week and it was time for me to go home. As I hugged my Dad goodbye, his hug to me was a little tighter and a little longer than usual. He stood in the doorway and waved goodbye. When I got home, my 12-year-old old grandson gave me a picture with the verse Romans 8:28: “God promises to make something good out of the storms that bring devastation to your life.” Not a day goes by that I do not stop and read that verse.
My mother’s funeral was the week before COVID hit and the stay-at-home orders were given. My Dad was home alone, with only my brother-in-law stopping by. He watched the news every minute and with each phone call I was finding him a little more down in the dumps. It was hard on him and what we did not realize was that his heart and kidneys were shutting down. He was hospitalized in April, 3 hours away from me, and he was not allowed any visitors due to COVID. For 14 days he kept telling me via phone that he was tired. He wanted to see Mom and he wanted to go home to his Jesus. They transferred him to the nursing home where my Mom had been and told me to come the next day to sign paperwork. I was told I could not see him due to COVID, but I could go around back and wave to him through his window.
The 2-hour trip to Bedford was filled with pouring rain—rain where you can barely see to drive. I arrived very early to sign paperwork. It was so hard knowing my Dad was right down the hall and I could not touch him, hold him, and say a prayer. When I was done with the paperwork they asked me to wait in the lobby and they would tell me how many windows to count off as I walked outside to find his room. At that moment, the Lord’s Prayer came over the loud speaker. I guess they did this each morning for the residents. I stopped and wondered if my Dad was able to hear the prayer he loved. I cried as I left the building.
The rain was so heavy it was seeping through the umbrella. There was no sidewalk, so my feet were soaked from walking through muddy, wet grass. As I came to his window, there were no lights on in the room and the drapes were closed, all but a little bit. The only thing I could see were his feet covered with a blanket. I sobbed. I will forever remember this scene as all color left. It was a total black and white vision. I turned around and walked back to my car, defeated, helpless, and crying out to God. As I closed the car door and looked at my phone I saw a text message came through. It was from my grandson, and it said, “Remember the picture, Romans 8:28.” As I cried, knowing that God was with me, I drove home in the rain.
The realization came to me that the black and white scene was like Good Friday. How dismal that day must have been. I also realized that God did not want me to see my Dad through that window. He certainly had ahold of the wheel, seeing me safely drive back to York. I had just got home, dried off, and was getting a bite of food when the phone rang. It was the nursing home saying my Dad had just passed away. Nine weeks after my mother’s passing and now here we were trying to conduct a funeral with only 10 people. With the children and spouses, plus grandchildren without spouses, we had exactly 10. The day we buried him next to my mother was filled again with a peace that can only come from God.
My brother is a paraplegic and lives with his son. As we cleaned out Dad’s house we were torn thinking about selling the house, as we knew how much it meant to our parents—70 yrs. worth of memories. As I prayed to God for guidance as the executor of Dad’s will, my nephew came forward and said he wanted to buy the house and make renovations so that my brother could move in with him. Oh, it had God written all over this deal!
This year has been a very hard one, and I am still grieving, and yet every day I see God making beauty out of ashes all around me. I am so thankful that my parents got to see Jesus, one right after the other. I am thankful for my grandson who reminded me of Romans 8:28 when I needed it the most, and I now smile every day as I pass by that picture. I am thankful the battles we face each day are not ours, including COVID and the unrest in this world, but they are God’s battles.