Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. —Proverbs 16:31 NIV
When I was a child, time seemed to drag. “When are we going to get there?” I’d ask my parents ten minutes after we pulled away from the curb.
“She’s starting already?” Dad groaned.
“Just hush and enjoy the ride,” Mom pleaded.
But I didn’t enjoy the ride! Why did it have to take so long to get there? And why did it have to take so long to grow up so I could wear lipstick and date like my cousin who lived next door?
Then suddenly it seemed as if someone pushed the accelerator after I got married and started having babies. Why did they have to grow so fast? Why did the days have to whiz by? I scarcely had time to grab the camera and capture their first steps and their first day in school.
My three children are now grown. Time hasn’t stood still! The 86,400 seconds that make up a day do seem to tick by more quickly the older we get. And as I’ve watched myself and my children grow older, I’ve seen the effect of time on my parents and on my husband’s parents.
Both my mother and father are now home with the Lord. I don’t know how much longer we will have my husband’s parents. Their gray hair is a crown of splendor and a reminder to value the time we have with them. Even though I often feel overwhelmed by my demanding schedule, I am determined not to miss spending time with them. These years of growing older together can be golden years for them—and for us. How?
Focus on the positives. Instead of dwelling on ways your parents may be starting to lose ground physically and mentally, rejoice for what they are still able to do. “Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about...and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9 TLB).
Don’t forget to give them encouragement and praise. Everyone needs encouragement and affirmation. Aging parents are no exception. Even if Mom’s homemade pie isn’t as good as it used to be, or if Dad’s garden isn’t as green, praise their efforts and let them know you appreciate them.
Do things together. Aging parents do not fit into busy to-do lists any more than growing children do, but it is worth rearranging your schedule for them. Do everything possible to show them they are high on your priority list. Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give them—and yourself!
Excerpt adapted with permission from My Turn to Care: Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents, by Marlene Bagnull (OakTara).
Marlene Bagnull, author of My Turn to Care (OakTara), knows the pain and privilege of caring for an aging parent. During those years, she longed for a book she could keep on her nightstand—not a how-to book to remind her of more things she ought to be doing, but a devotional book written by other caregivers. Marlene has been writing for over 30 years and is the author of five other books. A frequent speaker at Christian writers’ conferences around the nation, Marlene is also the director of the Colorado Christian and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conferences.