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Comfort in New Places

A daughter’s heartfelt reflection on caring for her aging dad.

Home sweet home. Thinkstock
Credit: alexeyrumyantsev
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I have been a stranger in a strange land. Exodus 2:22

When my stepfather came to live with me a few years ago, he was quite depressed. Although he realized he couldn’t go on living alone, he missed the home he had known for so many years. Whenever his friends called to see how he was, he would always say the same thing: “I never got a chance to go back home. I just went into the hospital and then I came here.”

I thought my dad’s sadness would go away, but when it didn’t, I spoke to our family doctor about it. “Be patient,” the doctor told me. “He needs more time. When we get older, it takes longer to feel comfortable in new places.” I never said anything to Dad; I just kept on trying to make him feel welcome. But sometimes when I saw the loneliness in his eyes, I thought my heart was going to break.

A few weeks ago, my dad and I went to a christening and a reception. We were away a full day, and when we came home my dad stood quietly at the back door while I fumbled for my keys. “You know,” he said, “I had a very good time—but it’s good to be home!” He was looking around at all the trees and smiling, as if he owned the place. And there wasn’t a bit of loneliness in his eyes. Our doctor was right. My dad just needed more time to make himself at home.

Gentle Jesus, give us the patience and understanding we need to be good caregivers.

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