The below is an excerpt from an upcoming book by David G. Evans addressing the concept of understanding the difficult period when a loved one, specifically a parent, needs care as they age. Additionally, the book helps navigate the stresses, emotions and demands of a recoverable sickness or the ultimate death of a loved one.- Oretha Winston- Lead Editor
Privileged Inconvenience is a reality which must be experienced to be fully understood. It’s filled with conflicting emotions and confronting feelings you think you shouldn’t feel. Those embarrassing reactions uncovering behaviors you have often criticized in others as well as selfishness you never thought to be part of your character. In addition, the fight to maintain the strength of your faith. We struggle with all of these and more when our life hero faces a challenge they don’t’ seem able to overcome. My mother was my hero.
I was attending the 85th birthday celebration of my 100 year old grandmother when I suddenly became aware of the mortality of my family. The head table, full of grey-headed men and women, represented years of caring, mentoring, correcting and encouraging. My mother was at the table. Our family hadn’t had a serious illness, not child or adult, in 30 years. We were enjoying an extended season of great favor and grace. But the super men and women were aging before my eyes. They had cared, defended, educated, tutored, advised and nursed us all. I had a sense my season of being served was about to change. The roles were slowly reversing as great strength yielded to the unavoidable power of time. Their hair, now grey, was grooming itself for the grave.
Years later my mom was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her need shifted my priorities. I began to care for her like she had cared for me for so long. My life focus changed.
I’ve always been a person able to clearly articulate my emotions, sorting out the conflicting inner voices produced by unusual circumstances. Deciding very quickly to overcome the range of emotions, good and bad, serious illness of a loved one produces. Discovering balance comes when we accept this life assignment and the stress it puts on our lives. I prayed but the results were not immediate. My sibling was of little help. I decided it was my turn to be inconvenienced but it was a privilege. I was never angry but felt powerless as her disease progressed. Always balancing faith with the reality that appeared to be unfolding. I was losing my best friend.
The formal title is caregiver but I was simply being a son. Unknown to me, I had joined the ranks of 23 million who care for their parents. I was the right age (over 50). While hospitalized making daily visits and once released staying at the house each night. It was simply my turn. The emotion and separation I felt when she died is still palpable almost 5 years later. You manage these feelings. You don’t’ get over them. Your grief is not understood by many and is an inconvenience to some. They don’t understand you have no experience in life for this. A part of me was missing. I didn’t shed a tear at the Service. Confused at first as to why, I realized that I’d filled the well of mourning by caring for her while she was alive.
You know someone always auditions for a Grammy or an Oscar at a funeral. I didn’t have tears of guilt to add. My life had been on hold but it was my turn. She raised my brother and I alone. She had inconvenienced herself for the love of her children. In our last conversations Mom said it had been a privilege to be my mother. Fifty five years of putting my needs before hers. The least I could do during those last few years was give her the benefit of Privileged Inconvenience.
Bishop David G. Evans is the Senior Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church which is a 30,000 multi-ethic congregation in Lindenwold, New Jersey. Along with being a teacher, recording artist, and corporate businessman, he has written Dare to be a Man.