Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mothers, Daughters, Wives

It's actually the title of a war protest song from the UK, c. 1983, but it applies to my thoughts today. "The first to go were fathers, the last to go were sons, and in between our husbands ...."

Hospital waiting rooms are filled with them. Mothers, daughters, wives. So often we are the ones who wait, chewing our fingernails, praying, fingering a string of beads, knitting, doing something mindless while an important person in our lives -- often a man for whom we care deeply -- fights for life somewhere down a hall, behind a closed door.

I am reminded of this because an old friend just had two heart shunts "updated", quite unexpectedly. He's going to be fine. A trip to ER, some tests, a relatively common surgical procedure, a couple of days in hospital to make sure there are no other problems, and he's home again. But there's no warranty on this repair job. Nothing to assure his wife and family that another part isn't going to fail next year -- or next month, or next week.

I am reminded of this because there are so many more widows than widowers. I am reminded of the times we prayed for another spouse who waited for a diagnosis or change in status. I am reminded of my own time at a hospital bedside, armed with a book and some needlework. Now another friend is taking her turn at a similar post.

The men in our lives usually don't operate that way. On the very rare occasions that I was hospitalized, Ray would come in for a half-hour in the morning, disappear, and return at the other end of the day, just before he headed back to Groveland. My friend the EMT made sure he knew which bed his wife was in, then disappeared to the nursing station. No hand-holding there; he doesn't do "sick people" well.

There are exceptions everywhere. There are men who wait quietly at bedsides and in waiting rooms while their own mothers, daughters, wives lie somewhere down the hall. There are women -- including my own mother -- who refuse to wait. There are some very special men I know who care for their invalid wives.

We all have friends, both men, and women, who are always there when we need a shoulder to cry on or to hear the sound of another human voice.

Give thanks for those in your life who offer their support simply by being available.

"Keep watch, Oh Lord, with those who wait and watch and weep this night. And give your Angels charge over those who Sleep..."

Keep praying.

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