I sit here waiting for Mom at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. As we make our way from the lab to the doctor’s station to the transfusion suite, I see so many other cancer patients accompanied by their family as well. Some wear masks and gloves, some have little hair; others are in wheelchairs or carry oxygen tanks. That is all “normal” here. We smile at each other in knowing solidarity.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Colbe Mazzarella for Life Matters TV. They are members of the Boston Neighborhood Network through which they gain access to the recording studio. I spoke about the pitfalls of end of life forms, and the extreme caution needed for MOLST forms.
After the show, Colbe and I talked for a bit. She, too, has a relative with a serious illness. We talked about the importance of caring for our parents and letting ourselves be cared for by others.
“I have always seen it this way,” she said. “The first 20 years of our lives, our parents care for us–change our diapers, feed us, provide for us. The next 20 years, we care for our own children in the same way. The next 20 years, we care for our parents the way they cared for us when we were young, changing their diapers, feeding them, providing for them. The last 20 years, our children care for us the way we cared for them.”
I would put it more at 25 year intervals these days, but the point is well-taken.
These are the natural seasons of caring rooted in the family. With God’s grace we live this out regardless of what is often difficult family dynamics or significant personal sacrifice. This is one of the ways in which the blessings of a large family becomes abundantly clear. This is even empirically evident– you chances of ending up in a nursing home goes down based on the number of children you have.
As for those without family, may we as a Christian community surround them with prayers, love, and the physical support they need. Let no one believe themselves to have no value, or to have been forgotten.