Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Best Laid Plans (Number 18 in a series)

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Luke 10: 33-35 (KJV)

When I arrived in California to help care for my mother, I envisioned hours spent in writing as I sat near her, ready to meet any need she may have. My sister had reported that Mama did little more than sleep between her feedings (through a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy - or PEG - tube).

Reality is somewhat different than my imaginings. Mama only sleeps intermittently (even at night!). She talks in her sleep, often crying out as though in distress or pain. She requires help ambulating to and from her bedside commode chair. Sometimes we can convince her to walk a little more, into the living room or perhaps into her bathroom for a quick “spit bath” in the sink.

Occasionally, Mama develops pain in her legs or feet. We use lavender oil or a chamomile based cream to massage the ailing part. Sometimes she just craves the human touch of someone holding her hand.

She imagines strange people in the room, requiring me to order them out or check on what they are doing. There are “accidents” requiring her bed to be changed, sometimes numerous times a day. The resultant loads of laundry must be washed, dried, folded and put away.

Another problem is the blockage in her esophagus, the reason the PEG tube was installed. The tube takes care of getting her nutrition, but it cannot help her feeling of needing to burp. So we have any number of antics to try to dislodge reluctant air bubbles. We try walking, getting up and down, patting her on the back and anything else we can think of to try to clear the bubble.

These interruptions can come at any moment. My concentration gets broken; whatever I’m working on gets set aside. Most of the writing I planned to get done is still waiting for me.

I wonder if the Samaritan had plans that day, on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho? Whatever they were, he put them aside to care for the man who had fallen among thieves. In putting his own plans on hold, he kept the appointment God had for him. The compassion he demonstrated has come to mean someone who cares above and beyond expectations – the Good Samaritan. Each time my plans get rearranged, I try to remember the Good Samaritan and open my heart to God’s plans.

Father, thank you for having the Master Plan. Please forgive me those times when I consider my own plans to be the most important things in the world. Help me to look to You for the right “next step” and not my own thoughts.

© 2008 Mary Beth Magee

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