At this time (1999) my parents were rapidly declining in their health and were rapidly losing their ability to adequately care for themselves.
My brother-in-law, Jerry, had just retired from his many years of teaching English and coaching basketball. He and my sister, Andrea, had planned to move to Pennsylvania, where their son was living, but sensed instead that God was calling them to come to Canterbury to care for our parents.
Our little house in Canterbury made it feasible for them to make this move, because now they could have their own place to stay. God had known the timing of my parents’ coming needs and He led us, through Barbara’s insight, to build this house to be of practical help to them.
So, as we were leaving Canterbury to return overseas, Andrea and Jerry moved into our little house and began caring for Mom and Dad, who lived just across our pond. This was a wonderful demonstration of obedience and self-denial on their part.
Their stay expanded from the planned one of two years into four. During this time Andrea was used by the Lord to lead to Christ both Dad and Mom in their eighties, as well as Mom’s eighty-seven year old sister. A wonderful answer to our prayers for them over more than 50 years.
Mom was in the midst of her Alzheimer deterioration, needing much care. Andrea was faithful in meeting all her needs, spending time, encouraging her in doing what she could. In one conversation Mom said she was going to heaven because she was good. This was a total surprise to all of us, for Mom had been a Sunday School teacher for 40 years, had been baptized and certainly lived a godly life. In fact, if anyone could go to heaven by being good, she would be the one.
Andrea talked with Mom about the gospel, but she was adamant that she was good enough on her own. Now Mom’s father, a faithful church goer, had finally come to Christ at 73 and became quite the evangelist. Andrea had one of the booklets he used to share his faith and gave it to Mom to read. When she finished she said, “Well, if my father believed this, then I’m ready to pray and accept Christ as my savior!” They prayed together, and Mom definitely changed.
Shortly after Mom said she wanted to go to St. Louis to visit her 87 year old sister who was in a nursing home. That didn’t seem like a realistic possibility, as Mom found it difficult to even go to the grocery store with Andrea, but Andrea took her at her word and purchased plane tickets for the trip. They spent 3 days visiting Aunt Hazel, who was bed ridden. Like Mom, Aunt Hazel was relying on her goodness to get to heaven and had been resistant all her life to the gospel, which requires an admission of being a sinner.
During the visit Andrea asked Aunt Hazel if she’d like to accept Christ as her savior, and she answered with a strong “Yes!” So they prayed together. After returning to Canterbury, Andrea got a letter from Aunt Hazel’s care giver, asking “What did you do to your aunt? She is so different after your visit!” Even in her state, being born again made a difference. She died three weeks later.
When both of my parents needed more care than my sister could give them, she move them into a nursing home in Ohio, where both my sisters were able to visit them every day until their death, giving them and many others in the nursing home wonderful, loving care and help.
As mentioned, Dad was not open to any spiritual input until he was totally incapacitated. Starting at 81, he had a long series of small strokes that left him sitting in a wheelchair, unable to do anything but put a fork in his mouth. The day after Mom died, he had another stroke and this robbed him of his speech; he could talk, but it came out all garbled. The doctor said his hearing was also affected so he could not understand what was being said.
I’d been praying for Dad’s salvation for 52 years and now this seemed impossible. I began to pray, “Lord, speak to Dad in the prison of his mind. Help him to remember all he’s heard over the years about you and salvation.
The Lord answered graciously, giving him times of half an hour or more where his mind opened up and he could both speak and hear clearly. In the first such incident, my brother-in-law Chris dropped by to visit and found Dad reading his Bible. Together they went through several chapters in John and Chris prayed with him. During another one of Dad’s lucid times, my sister Andrea asked if he’d like to accept Christ as his savior. Dad answered, “yes.” Andrea prayed for him, and even in his limited state he changed! He died peacefully two years later. It is wonderful to know that we will see him again in Heaven!
Pictures: Dad rode his motorcycle until he was 81. In his later years in a grandson powered type of wheeled transport.