Bow to the Vow

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Bow to the Vow

Whatever happened to keeping ones marriage vows? I watched the less than 3 minute answer Pat Robertson gave when asked: “My friend’s wife has Alzheimer’s and does not recognize him, he is seeing another woman because of this, what should I tell him?” You can check out the link to hear his full answer. It won’t take long. Robertson gives us plenty to think about in his short answer, but I believe if we take our marriage vow(s) seriously, we will bow to the vow. Sacrifice, yield, commit, bow to the vow(s) we shared. Pat Robertson talked about how hard it was to care for “someone like this.”  It’s more than hard. It’s self sacrificing. It’s exhausting. It has little reward because the person you care for doesn’t have the potential or capacity to give anything in return. Anything. I watched Mom care for Dad for over 6 years along with my 2 sisters and I. We lovingly sacrificed our “own plans” and spent countless hours changing dad’s diapers, giving him haircuts, staying at his side during numerous nursing home or hospital stays, feeding him, trying to make sense of non-sensible thoughts and words, yet always choosing to bring him home to where he seemed to be most calm (i.e. less agitated and frustrated. Less being the operative word). The home that accommodated my dad, the family care-givers and a night time care-giver – so Mom could sleep – was remodeled to accommodate his hospital bed, walker and eventually the wheelchair, and other needs.) Accommodate: To make fit or suitable; to adjust; to provide with something needed; obliging. To help understand “accommodation” as it relates to Alzheimer’s is rearranging your whole life to help someone besides yourself to be comfortable and well cared for. While I don’t agree with much of what Mr. Robertson said, I do agree that it’s hard. The person “isn’t there” most of the time, but sometimes they are, and when they are, you grasp that moment and savor it. We didn’t stop caring, helping, or visiting just because there was little to no response from Dad – or because it was inconvenient, hard, or wasn’t fun. It was never convenient – it was always hard and it was seldom fun. Picture changing an adult diaper; picture an elderly person throwing a temper tantrum and food or objects. Picture yourself helping. Can you do it for the long haul? Even if the long haul includes daily visits to a care facility that can help you? I suspect Mom’s 6+ years of care-giving may have precipitated her early death (heart attack at age 69)….Dad giving up and following his bride in death just 5 days later.  But each of us did what we did because of one thing: LOVE – which when sincere and genuine carries with it a commitment. It was hard. Very hard. But love was stronger than the challenge. It always is. Robertson’s response takes me by surprise given his years of ministry. I understand the bible to teach that (true) love never fails…is patient, kind, does not seek its own, bears all things and hopes all things…to share a bit of I Cor. 13: 4-8. As difficult as those years were, we were somewhat prepared having cared for our son with special needs (who is now 30). Would we walk out on him? Not a chance. God never said it would be easy, fun, or comfortable. Less than a year after my parents’ deaths, Joe heard the doctor say, “Your Mom has advanced vascular dementia.” We had a new, but not so different choice to make: stay in the game, sit on the side lines, or leave. It took but a moment to catch our breath and get back in the game.  AND….wouldn’t we all hope that our spouse would desire to stay in the game and care for us…for BETTER OR WORSE – and bow to the vow? I know I do.


For more information on caring for children with special needs be sure to check out the Special Needs portion of the Family Matters website.

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