I can hardly remember my life before Mom came to live with us on December 3, 1996 at the invitation of my husband, Lyle. She was 87, but to her, age was just a number. It did not define her. She was in good health and very active. Living with us fulfilled a need in her life and she enriched our lives. We were a family. I loved her dearly.
Almost 20 years later, while being held and surrounded by her loved ones, Anne Beversluis fell asleep and woke up in the arms of her Heavenly Father.
She did not suffer or need any end-of-life medication. Her favorite hymn was “Great Is Thy Faithfulness…morning by morning new mercies I see, all I have needed thy hand hath provided, Great is thy faithfulness…Lord unto Me.” God was faithful to her right up until her last breath. He answered my prayers and I was with her. I believe God said to me, “I gave you everything you asked for…now do not cry…be joyful…be at peace…your task is complete.”
Caregiver Claire Abel Reflects on the Joy of Caring for Her Mom
After moving into our California home from her home in New Jersey, she cared for herself well into her 100s. Then I became her daily caregiver. I made sure she was safe and not alone in the house. This limited Lyle’s and my freedom.
I coped by surrounding myself with things I loved and what made me happy. My two little white Maltese doggies, Pancake and Snuggle and a house filled with music as I sang along. We attended church every Sunday where I recharged my batteries. I tried to get enough sleep to prepare my body to be patient rather than overwhelmed. My husband was always there for me.
Three years ago, we hired in-home care to assist me with Mom. My prayer was to care for her at home. Two loving Christian Filipino angels, Angie and Loy, each came four hours every day for 3 1/2 years. I felt joy and comfort when I kissed her good night and tucked her in her own bed, in her room, in our home.
Now, that room is empty. My life changed. My Mom taught me everything, except, how to live without her. But my strength comes from knowing that I did my best, I gave my all, I finished the race. Life would not be the same without a mother’s love. At almost 71, I had lost the person who had known me from the moment I was born and loved me unconditionally, my confidant, my dearest friend, my pal.
I would do it all over again.
If I had to choose all over again, knowing it would be for the next 19 1/2 years, I would do it all over again. As Gloria Gaither so beautifully wrote, “And when relationships demand commitment, then I’ll be there to care and follow through.”
I had dreaded the day I would lose her. I could not even think about it without tearing up. But when that day actually came and the emotional days that followed before her burial, I met a new me, one that did not cry – one I did not recognize! I said to myself, “Who are you – you are not the Claire I know!” But my God is a God of Grace. There is a depth of God’s love that we experience on a need-to-know basis. That is a love you did not need before. That love was God’s gift to me.
Three months have passed and tears have set in. I feel a deep sense of loss. The release of my emotions is actually comforting but life is very different. I am adjusting to an identity crisis: What is my role now? We not only lost Mom, but angels Angie and Loy who became family. The house is very quiet. We are adjusting to no timeframes and an empty room.
I will always miss my mom; however, it will not prevent me from moving forward. Lyle and I are finding meaning, peace, and contentment beginning a new chapter in our lives – Us. With God’s help, together we will learn to live that chapter.