Always Choose to Celebrate Life



Last week I went to Florida to visit my dad who officially became an octogenarian. While 80 years of life is certainly an accomplishment, it’s been an especially difficult battle these last six years. Sadly, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, had more than 50% of his lung removed and has been taking various anti-cancer treatments the entire time.

Life can be a bummer when you are sick. I am sure dad feels lousy coupled with never ending pain. It’s difficult to breath.  Food doesn’t taste good anymore. He can’t move around as fast, nor can he do the things he use to love to do; however, dad is not the only one impacted.

My mom continues to be nurturing to one so sick, and it can wear you out.  Plus, she does not always remember to recharge her own soul; yet, it’s not always possible. It’s challenging to be a 24/7 caregiver and remain positive. 

Seriously, I questioned whether or not to visit them in Florida. After all, I could just call and wish them well. I could stay home, and show my concern with a simple card, and maybe even a little gift for I knew that such a trip would not be an easy one.

-Would dad be well enough to receive a visitor?
-What could we possibly do for 2 days that would be a blessing?
-Would my immediate family join me in such a trip? Or would I have to go it alone?
-And how much would this trip cost me?  

But what would Jesus have done? I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. He didn’t jump onto the other side of the road pretending he didn’t see that one in need. He didn’t take a quick look and walk on by. He bandaged his brother’s wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  Now that is choosing life!

As I was still mulling over how to celebrate my dad’s birthday, I discovered that I waited too long to get an inexpensive airline ticket. However, my gracious husband took time off from work to drive with me to their little bungalow. (Mom & Dad live in NY state, but are snow birds.)

After the long eleven hour drive from NC, I couldn’t wait to relax with a glass of wine to indulge my sacrificial self. I thought we’ve finally arrived, but my first night there didn’t go as I planned. It turned into a family dinner at a senior restaurant with five very different couples. I felt like I was in the middle of a Billy Crystal comedy routine about weird family relationships.

“Patience,” I told myself, “you are not here for you.”

The next day Dad and Mom came to our hotel for breakfast. Dad insisted all he wanted to do was stay home and watch TV. He really wasn’t feeling well. So Jim and I went for a little outing with mom, and then again… we headed out to a seafood restaurant with more family craziness.

But suddenly the situation turned even crazier!

My husband Jim became very sick with food poisoning and could no longer stay with the crowd. We rushed back to the hotel hoping that laying down and resting would relieve his discomfort. For a few moments I wondered if we’d be heading to the ER, but fortunately, he was able to sleep through the night and it passed.

When morning came, I thought we have one more day and need to make the best of it. “Lord,” I prayed. “Show us your plans for this day. Let us use this time wisely to bless my mom and dad.”

Next thing I know, I have this idea of driving to Clearwater, Florida and putting my feet in the ocean. I think I’d like to stop and see the Kapok Tree Inn and Gardens, a place that our family toured when I was still living at home as a teen. It’s been over forty years since I’ve been there.

How interesting that mom calls and shares that same idea with me, and we decide  to go for it, remembering those sweet days of years gone by, enjoying the precious moments of that wonderful day. I see the beautiful hand of God all over us.

Once again, God has taught me a few good lessons.
- Lay down my own selfish agenda.
- Be willing to go the extra mile and do the right thing.
- Practice patience even when you don’t want to.
- God always has great ideas, and I need to ask Him more often.
- Trust Him that He is working things out for good.
- Choose to celebrate life and love people!

My Mom, Me and my Dad once again visiting the Kapok Tree Gardens!

My Mom, Me and my Dad once again visiting the the Kapok Tree Gardens in Clearwater, Florida!

I am blessed every day when I choose to celebrate life by loving others. How about you?  


One response to “Always Choose to Celebrate Life

  1. Barbara, what a blessing for your parents that you went to spend time with them. My sister actually took our mom into her home two and a half months before she went to be with the Lord. She had lung cancer. She opted to ignore it and not have treatments. In fact, we never called it cancer until a month before she died; we all agreed to use the word, “the mass.” It was interesting that the month after we started calling it “cancer,” she went to be with the Lord.

    I didn’t know your daddy has lung cancer. I will most assuredly be praying for him, and your mom…and YOU. I encourage you to make more trips to see them. I spent two weeks with my mom at Christmas, even extending my stay an extra 10 days so that I was able to be with her on Christmas Day before she passed the following March. My last memories of her are sitting with my sister and her on the back pew of the church we grew up attending (and where I was married), and receiving communion with her. She was unable to walk to the front, so the pastor came back to our pew. Tears streamed down her face. it meant THE WORLD to her that her DAUGHTERS were receiving communion with her. AT CHURCH TOGETHER.

    The next time I saw her, I had been called because hospice had been called. I came on Friday night and she went to be with Jesus on Sunday at 5PM. She was still able to speak when I arrived, and I will never forget her struggling to lift her hand to touch my arm and saying, “Hi, Miss Cynthia.” Those are the last words I heard her say to me. She went to Jesus’ arms with all of her children surrounding her bed singing hymns and worshiping our Savior. Our life was always not this way. There was much strife and bickering. Mom prayed all those years for her children, for “unity amongst the brethren.” Each of us had our issues with her, too. We also prayed and worked with Holy Spirit to heal the wounds between her and each of us.

    I know this is long and your post was about you and your sweet trip to see your parents. It just erupted in me the memories of spending time with my mom the last year of her life. I even remember God speaking to me in prayer to “get a laptop so you can do business on the road.” I asked the Lord where I was going. And He said, “For many visits to see your Mom.”

    I spent a lot of money in airfare, more than I wanted to spend. It was also a sacrifice for my family and myself. But I obeyed and I have no regrets. Only lasting, wonderful memories of time with my mom watching Reba, Hallmark movies, looking at old photos, and listening to her tell me stories she had already told me a million times.

    What a beautiful photo of you and your parents at the Kapok Tree Gardens! The water flowing in the background behind you is so prophetic of what God was doing, refreshing your folks by your visit!


    Love you so much, Barbara,
    Cynthia Nurss


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