by Carol Longenecker Hiestand
“I found him in bed when I came to visit this morning.” Kathy, my dad’s case manager was on the phone, calling from his apartment during her once-a-month visit. “Usually he is downstairs waiting for me. I think he may have broken his hip when he stumbled and fell in his room this morning.”
It’s easy to miss the changes when you see someone almost every day. It was a comfort for me to have another set of eyes on my Dad him as he gradually declined, but still able to live in an independent living place just five minutes from our home. He was living alone, as my mom had died four years earlier.
We were in Florida on vacation when the call came, just two weeks after my retirement began. I had a good retirement income, and a bucket load of dreams just waiting to be realized when we got that call, which had us cutting our vacation short and scurrying back to Illinois. I arrived in time for his surgery the next day. Two days after that, we moved him into rehab at a nursing home.
“He’s going to need Assisted Living,” the therapist said when she evaluated Dad two days later. “He will need 24/7 care for now.” She said it matter-of-factly in a nice enough way, I suppose, but I had an immediate antipathy toward her. Did she have any idea how she had single-handedly upended our world with those six words?
We always knew my dad would live with us when he could no longer stay in his simple studio apartment. My dad had been in ministry all his life and financially, he’d done the best with what he had, which for many of those years had been precious little. Now he was almost out of money and this person was telling me my dad needed 24-7 care for now and probably assisted living after that. He would most likely be with us the rest of his life, however long that would be. We knew it would come to this point, but not now, not so soon after my long-anticipated retirement – not this way.
By this time, I had lost all of my siblings. It was just my husband and me, trying to figure out how to manage. Our plan was to move him home with us, use the money he was paying for his apartment to hire a part-time caregiver. when the time came. We figured we had a couple of years before we needed to put this plan into action. Well, my husband did. On the other hand, I was in denial.
I was just settling into this expedited timeline when I got another life-changing phone call, informing me the company I had been with for 25 years was filing bankruptcy the next day. For the foreseeable future there would be no income. This was money my husband and I had planned on living on for the next ten years. There was no assurance we’d see any of it. A bankruptcy can do that. We became just another creditor.
As we were trying to figure out our next move, my sister-in-law suggested we get someone to live with us. Maybe there was someone out there who would want to help my dad – and us. That seemed a little unlikely to me. After all, they would want to get paid and that was the presenting problem.
One morning as I was driving to the rehab center, exhausted, worn out and discouraged, I stopped at a small park along the way. Out of the blue, I received an inspired idea. I believe now it was God answering my plea for help. Maybe I could find someone who needed a place to land, and if they didn’t have to pay rent, it would help them get on their feet. Maybe that someone would exchange a place to live for 10 hours of elder care per week.
But how would I find this person?
God proved he was right there in the middle of the looking. In Montana, my sister in law suggested I put a note on Facebook. From Arkansas, a mutual friend saw the message and suggested I get in touch with a home school group in our area and spread it through their network. Here in Illinois, I contacted a friend in the home school group here in our area. She had just happened to come back into my life after many years.
Soon after she sent it through their network, an email message came from a woman who was not in the home school group, but on their mailing list. Although I did not know her, her name was familiar to me. She suggested a woman in her early sixties who needed to move closer to her job and was in search of an inexpensive place to live while she got back on her feet. We were in the right place. Did I think it would work?
Christine came to interview. She had cared for her mom and dad before their deaths five years previously. She loved older people. As an added blessing, she was a woman of faith who had attended the church up the street where my dad attended each Sunday. She said she would be happy to take him to church, which meant my husband and I could begin attending our own church together, which gave us some time out of the house together each week. Loving and kind, Christine tenderly cared for my dad and we trusted her completely.
She stayed with us until he died eight months later. My dad loved her and she dearly loved him. In fact she was the one who was with him the night before he died, putting him to bed, giving him his goodnight kiss for me. The next morning when we woke up he was unresponsive. He entered heaven twelve hours later at age 86, fourteen months after his hip fracture.
In recent months, he had often voiced his yearning to be with his Esther. And quietly and peacefully, his desire was fulfilled.
Christine needed a way to get back on her feet.
We needed a way got get back on our feet.
And I guess you could say Dad at last got back on his feet and joined my mom, never to stumble again.
Carol Longenecker Hiestand writes when inspired about things that often go unnoticed, and sees herself as a storyteller. She’s a wife, mom, grandmother, and friend living right in the middle of the second half of life. She’s passionate about writing to and for her grandchildren about her life, passing on the things she’s learned. You’ll often find her immersed in making photo books for our family, working to keep her scattered family connected. She’s a lover of all shades of purple and rose. Lilacs, waterfalls, any body of water, porch swings and Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (when she can find it!) make her happy.
Cover photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash
Enjoyed this story, and look forward to more from the author! Thank you!
thank YOU for taking the time to read
Thanks Carol for the wonderful story.
It’s good for me to revisit these stories and remember the wonder of how God moved, even in the hard and the disappointments. Always he is present
Thank you so much, Carol! I often forget how well God can and will take care of us.
yes, he does, but sometimes it comes disguised as a disappointment. And it’s hard to see it sometimes. And isn’t always the way we had planned – but there it is, an answer in the midst of confusion. thanks for reading.
I love reading how God supplies for His children! We are all so blessed.
Yes, we are, even when it doesn’t seem like it. It’s good for me to revisit the story of how God provided when it seemed like there were no answers.
This meant the world to me, I am 63 years and after being a native from Colorado, we found ourselves in Oregon now for 3 years, I have yet to find friends my age, all younger and I’ve been where you are and this has been a breath of fresh air reading this! I’m in a confusing time in my life right now so Thank You For writing this, you touched me thru God!!! He is always at work for us isn’t he😂💞🙋🏼♀️
I am sorry to hear about the confusing time you are in. Changing churches, changing communities and so far away at our age …there are a lot of layers here to cope with all at once. and it can be a very lonely time. We changed church communities to one where we could be the grandparents of 90% of the congregation. I guess I expected our friends to all stay put and we’d grow” old” together. and at one point in our lives, didn’t we just assume we’d have it all figured out. 🙂
Thank you for sharing, Carol. These can be such tough transitions. Often God answers our prayers in amazing ways, but it is still hard. I appreciate hearing your story.
Yes, they can be hard – and while we know Jesus is always with us, sometimes we forget and then friends can step and be Jesus to us. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a note.
Having known your family, it was touching and encouraging to read your story and be able to praise God with you for all the ways He cares for us in the midst of such circumstances. It’s wonderful that you are sharing these stories with your family and others. I’m glad I stumbled on it and took the time to read it!
Ann, what a treat to see you here. You must have seen it on the MIB board. Thank you so much for taking the time to not only read but stay around and write a note.
I think you’d enjoy this site. and I enjoy hearing from you.
Thank you for writing about your dad. I enjoyed knowing him as I went to MIB also. I am very glad that God is our friend and helps us each and every day.
how special to connect with another old friend of my dad. You might notice Ann Ward-Turner who posted right before you. thanks for connecting.
I am so glad that I saw your link on Create If Writing!
This story about your father and your family is a beautiful example of what many would call “coincidence” but what I call “everyday miracles”. There is no doubt in my mind that however much we do to help ourselves, sometimes there is that extra little push from an unseen Hand that makes things fall Into place.
you are so, so right. that thought did not just pop into my head all by itself. I can still remember the clarity. It seemed to come straight from God. We still don’t have the retirement thing worked out long-term. You don’t lose a large amount of money and just make it up at our age. So the issue of trust continues. thanks for stopping here.
you are so gifted dear friend Carol in writing true stories about your life. We never know what a second is going to hold. Believing in God’s sovereignty and that nothing happens that isn’t filtered through His hands first helps give us peace about what God may bring into a day of our life.
God’s sovereignty – I have thought about a lot about that and have come to the conclusion I certainly understand God’s sovereignty, but then if I did, he wouldn’t be sovereign after all. I guess that’s why they say it’s a mystery……to all the years of friendship through thick and thin…..
I meant I can’t inderstand it, of course.
I read your post then, and now. We have walked shared journeys, and our unique ones. A fellow in the Perennial Gen, who has a 16 year old still at home, has been on a forced downsize journey, and trying to find my path. Sometimes it is easier to see an idea for another, than for my own muddling along. Thanks for sharing your story. your “Arkansas friend”.
What a blessing to read this during our ‘Job’ summer. We have not actually had children die, but the challenges sometimes seem more than we can bear. Your beautiful words are so needed as a perspective.
Thank you for sharing.