I want to talk about love: love for our elders, for the aged, for the weary, for those fragile lives that rest within our hands – and our hearts.
I have a beautiful uncle who is wracked with, amongst other things, Parkinson’s disease, which means he is very dependent upon my Aunty to aid his mobility, speech and day-to-day care. Her commitment and her strength in doing this for him is nothing short of admiral.
But first and foremost, it is an act of love.
I also have a close friend whose mother just celebrated her 92nd birthday. Six months ago, her own fragility meant she was unable to care for herself at home alone, so her two adult children decided, as a family, to be responsible for her 24 hour care.
They, and her grandson, now share her full time care between them. The son stays three days and nights, the nephew for 24 hours, then the daughter for three days and nights.
Three more acts of love.
And although the act of love, in itself, is free, love in action, can come at a potential cost. This cost is not exclusively financial, and could also include the cost of the dignity of the one being cared for, as well as the physical and emotional cost to the carers. The cost may be measurable, but the value is not.
Since moving in with his now-92 year old mum three days a week, my friend has installed door bells at various points throughout the house so she can ‘ding dong’ him if he’s out of earshot.
And as she’s prone to falling, his mum needs help in getting in and out of the bed – sometimes all through the night. At first, they used an alarmed rubber mat, that as soon as she placed her feet upon it, activated a loud, screeching sound which both shocked and frightened her.
This inspired my friend to come up with an alternative: a motion sensor, that when activated, turns on his bedroom light and radio. Now, before she’s reached for her walking frame, her son is right beside her, gently helping.
There’s a lot of love in this family’s home. So much so, that the lady who comes every other day to shower his mum, now stays for a coffee and a chat, because, she says, ‘I love being around this family’.
So as we prepare in haste for this festive season, with our thoughts and hearts distracted by the maddening rush, take a few moments to give thanks for those you love, for those you are loved and cared by, and for those you love and care for.
This is love – in action.