Friday, September 7, 2012

For Better or Worse . . . In Sickness and in Health

My parents on their wedding day - Dec. 1958
Two weeks ago today, my father, Bob Walker passed on from this life. Jesus welcomed a wonderful new angel into the fold when my father arrived. I rejoice in knowing Daddy is free from the shackles of the stroke that stole the better part of his life years ago. I'm happy that my dad is finally home, but I miss him. More than words can say.

 And I've been missing him for the last 18 years.

Only one year after retiring, my father was vacationing in Colorado when an abdominal aneurysm burst, leading to a debilitating stroke. After he came home from the hospital, only a shadow of the man we knew remained, and we grieved for all we had lost. It would never be the same. Gone was the mechanical mind that could fix anything, useless were the hands that had fashioned countless carpentry projects. Silent were the lips that offered such helpful, fatherly advice that steered our worlds back on track. And gone was the teasing grandfather my children would never fully know. In place of my strapping 6'3" father, was a child-like man who could no longer speak.

We've been told by many  medical experts that it was truly a miracle that my father survived the severity of the aneurysm. Others have not been so blessed. Some may remember the abrupt, shocking death of actor, John Ritter, of the old "Three's Company" fame. The cause was identical to my dad's. We were so grateful that Daddy survived, but the detour it caused in all our lives was not an easy one.

Especially for my mother.

 Her life changed  forever on that  fateful, September day. Not only did she lose her husband and best friend of 35 years, but her beloved role of wife had come to an end. The future was bleak, and I won't candycoat the emotional toll it took on all of us.

But we were never alone. Not once did we think God had abondoned us. In fact, that rocky detour forced us to lean even harder on our Guide . . . our Heavenly Father. And somewhere along that journey we all grew stronger. None more than my dear mother, Donna.

My sisters and I watched my mother transition into new roles of caretaker, teacher and nurse. Shy and reserved by nature, my mother was forced to break out of her shell and take on all the tasks my father had been responsible for. She lifted her chin, squared her shoulders and got out of her comfort zone, attempting things she had never done before.

 The woman forged a backbone made of steel and wrangled with insurance and medicare representatives to get  the best care for my father. She memorized every prescription and every dosage Daddy needed. She took thousands of blood pressure readings and made hundreds of doctor's appointments, accompanying him to every one. Even as his health declined over the last few years, she vowed to keep him at home and refused suggestions of admitting him to a facility. So we stepped up the care and my sisters and I pitched in and helped on our days off, but it was a mere drop in the bucket. Through it all, my mother never wavered in her beliefs, praying daily for  God's strength and direction. Her faith grew stronger with every passing year and filtered down to all of us.

At the funeral, when asked by relatives and friends, how she manged to hang in there for all these years, she smiled and recited her wedding vows, "For better or worse, in richer and poorer, and in sickness and health." When she took those vows, she meant them. She lived them.

And to me, that is the most beautiful love story of all.
Mom and Dad - Christmas 2010


  1. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. Your mother has to be an amazing woman. Praying for your family!

  2. Thank you Melissa. I agree, she is an amazing woman and I'm so blessed to call her MY mother.

  3. thanks. Crying is just what I wanted to do on my lunch break! grandma is the most amazing person, wife, example, and God follower that I am blessed to call mine. I'm so glad so much of her rubbed off on you! :) -nat

    1. The jury is still out on that one, but I have had a good teacher. :-)

  4. Your mother is an inspiration! I am sorry for your loss...

    --Leann (Natalie's friend)

  5. Sweet. Loved your comments Avie.


  6. Ava, your words are so beautiful. When my grandfather was fifty-one years old he suffered a brain aneurysm and was also reduced to the shell of his former self. I was only three years old, so I didn't know him before his stroke. Three years ago he went home to be with Jesus and two days before his death my uncle found a cassette tape with his testimony. I listened to my grandfather, as a much younger man, speaking about his love for Jesus and the redemption he found at the cross. I listened in tears, because this wasn't the man I knew. When the testimony was finished my mom said: "Did you know that your grandpa was the one who led us to Jesus?" I hadn't known that - it was part of the story that had been overlooked. That night I went to my grandparents' home, late at night, and three of my aunts were sitting up in the dark, quiet living room. They told me that grandpa and grandma were lying in bed, but I should go in to see him.

    When I stepped into that room my grandma was holding my grandpa and when she saw me she smiled. My grandpa never woke up, but I took his hand in mine and told him how much I loved him - and I thanked him for forging a path to salvation that the rest of us followed. It was the last time I saw him on this side of Heaven.

    My grandmother was my grandpa's primary care giver for twenty-five years and she was amazing. There will be a special place in Heaven for those mighty women who have lived an unselfish life, in sickness and in health.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. It is a beautiful story of love and faith. I agree there must be a special place in heaven for those wonderful caregivers.

  7. What a lovely tribute - to both of your parents! Rest in peace, Uncle Bobby.


Thank you for visiting my blog site.I'd love to read your comments