Family Life | Beyond All We Could Ask Or Think

Beyond all we Could Ask or Think
Bringing my Father to Live in our Home

“It was a bad bleed,” said the doctor of my 54-year-old father who had just suffered a stroke. “Because it was hours before they found him, his prospect for surviving is 50/50. His ability to function, if he survives, is even lower.”

All six siblings from different marriages gathered in the OHSU trauma ward. My oldest brother Dan and I had been praying for his salvation for years. We’d made a pact together in high school.

“Whatever it takes, God, please show him his need for You,” I prayed. I couldn’t believe this was the end.

Dad was unconscious for 28 days. When I asked a Christian nurse about his chances for survival, she encouraged me, “You never know, people can be in a coma a long time and just come out of it.”

“He doesn’t know God yet. I’m sure God will have mercy,” I replied. As I spoke, Dad lifted his hand and put it on my shoulder. It scared me, but the thrill of him making movement brought hope to my soul.

Once out of his comma, they moved him to a regular hospital room and within two days he was dismissed to a nursing home. He desperately wanted rehabilitation, but insurance would not pay for therapy unless he had a home to go to after rehab. “You are welcome to come live with us,” I said wholeheartedly while holding our one-year-old son in my arms.

“I don’t want to be a burden on you,” he said looking at Levi, then back at me.

God changed Dad’s mind, and after a month at the Good Samaritan rehab center he came home to us. After being a chiropractor for over 25 years, Dad was used to going places and meeting people. He was the life of the party and had been the president of the Chiropractic Association for Oregon. Now he was in a wheel chair with only 20 percent use of his right side. This would be a tough adjustment.

As we drove home, I couldn’t help but rethink the occupational therapist’s words, “Young children and stroke patients don’t fare well together . . . nerves, you know.” Great. Our house is all boy. My husband and our four boys aged seven and under were full of energy.

“What are you doing, God?” I thought, but this was the door He had opened. I didn’t want to doubt Him without at least trying. Besides, this is what we had prayed for . . . life. God gave Dad life and now I had an opportunity to bless him and be with him on a daily basis. His Scientology friends all ditched him. He and his current wife had divorced just months before the stroke.

My dear husband, David, prepared our home for Dad’s arrival. We had just finished painting the nursery and hanging a pooh bear boarder on the wall only days before Dad’s stroke. David moved the crib-sized bunk bed to the downstairs boys’ room. It would be a little squashed, but they would manage. Instead, in went a hospital bed for Dad, right under pooh bear.

Dad adjusted well, ate every meal with us, retreated to his room as needed, and patiently worked with the in-home therapists. Longing for an outing besides a doctor’s appointment, Dad joined us for church every Sunday and David made the sacrifice to treat us all to a meal out afterwards! Something about the combo made for happy and memorable Sundays.

“I’m not Christian, I’m just watching,” Dad said to me one day.

“That’s fine,” I managed with a smile. By the end of the year he met with our pastor, a dear friend of ours. Pastor Rick answered his questions about Scientology and the Bible. They began meeting weekly. By spring he wanted to be baptized. With Pastor Rick and my brother Dan’s help, they wheeled him into Hagg Lake. With all his friends and family watching he professed the name of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that sunny March day. My soul leapt for joy to watch him cast off all that had meant so much to him to proclaim the name of Christ!

Dad has always been a giver, not a taker. So as soon as he was able he said, “I want to do the dishes at every meal.” And he did, left handed. Being a busy mama of little ones, it wasn’t always easy to get alone time with Dad. We made a house rule that while Gramps was in the kitchen, short of a necessity the kitchen and Mama were not available. It was in this setting that my dad began sharing with me the Bible stories he was listening to each morning.

It was exciting beyond words. I grew up seeing my dad only every other weekend. Now he was living in my home, doing my dishes, and telling me Bible stories. God was making up for the years the locust had eaten.

Soon baby five was on the way. I remember making Dad’s bed when the phone rang. On the other end was a desperate plea from another family member. She wanted me to start taking care of her as well. Pregnant, out of breath from making dad's bed, and now completely overwhelmed, I prayed, "Oh, dear God, please extend her life and revive her. Give her more years.”

God answered that prayer, allowing only what I could handle. Then it happened. In the wee hours of a January morning in the middle of a snow storm, our sweet son Andrew was born. Dad held him that morning with joy. Without the stroke he would not be here for this precious moment. The weather kept the outside world away. But inside, God made up for lost time.

It has been 15 years since Dad’s stroke. David built him an addition. Dad’s health has improved a great deal. He enjoys cooking man style—smoking chicken or salmon for the family. Several of our little ones have learned to read by practicing with Grandpa. The other half of our tribe has been born since Dad moved in.

I thought he was coming to bless Him, but that has changed. The other day he told me the reason God still has him here on the earth is to help us with our growing busy family. He still does our dishes and visits with me while we work in the kitchen together. I knew God was big but I didn’t know He would work so specifically and practically in all of our lives. He deserves our abandoned devotion. For truly He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

MELINDA POLING
Gaston, Oregon, USA
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Printed in Above Rubies #92

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