It all started at mom’s bedside – I think it was her last time in the hospital – or maybe the time before that.  She was scheduled for surgery in an attempt to re-inflate her right emphysema-infested lung, which was, by all accounts, a fairly futile effort. The other lung was only marginally better.  (The doctor described her lungs as “tissue-thin.”)  But there at her bedside, she looked up at dad and me and said, “If this doesn’t go well, you should go live with Kim.”

Startling.  They lived in Alabama.  We lived in Virginia.  (In our 30 years of marriage, mom and dad had visited us only twice.)  I reminded dad of the conversation a short time later, after mom died.  I knew he would be lost without her.  She guided his every move, and he was attentive to her every need.  Both had multiple medical challenges.  But mom’s were immediate and devastating to us all.  (As a child I would beg her to stop smoking.)  She and dad both stopped, eventually.  But it was later in life and the irreparable damage had been done.  Mom developed emphysema.  Dad did not.

So, here we are, two years out.  Dad has settled into our home and has brought a welcome and challenging aspect to our lives.  I never dreamed, especially at my age, that I would live with a parent again.  But circumstances warranted that for his health and safety, as well as peace of heart and mind, that he come home with us.  Dad has multiple health problems of his own, and we have spent many evenings in the hospital at his bedside.  But most of the time he is fairly stable and is home with us.

He seems to like it here in Virginia Beach.  He recalls his long-past days in the Navy with fondness, when he was stationed in neighboring Norfolk.  He loves his Sunday School class and attends whenever he can, and he loves his walks in our neighborhood, down to the river.  Of course, he misses being able to visit mom’s grave and being with extended family down in Alabama.  But being where mom wanted him to be gives him comfort.

I’m reminded of Scripture that talks about how God can use even the difficult events in our lives to bring about good.  And that has happened for me.  As a Chaplain, I have a new passion for end-of-life and elderly care.  I have a new Chaplaincy position in a local nursing home and although I still work in the local hospitals, my heart is truly blessed when I am able to focus on the residents in my nursing facility.

This particular part of my journey, and our journey as a family, is difficult sometimes, but it is sacred.  I anticipate more difficult days ahead, as dad faces multiple health challenges.  But I am confident that dad is where he is supposed to be, and we are blessed to have him with us.


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Kim Chafee

I am a lover of the God who sings! I am a Christ-follower and an ordained minister married to the other Rev. Chafee (Scott), with two grown children and a multitude of pets. And, I love chocolate. Read more about me and the reason for this blog on my ABOUT page.

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  1. Thanks, Ruth. I agree – I think our society has become such that most everyone is in a quest for eternal youth. And there is fear and little respect of growing old. And in that attitude, we miss the blessing of the journey that you mention.

  2. Great reflection, Kim! How wonderful that your mother gave your father permission to feel at peace about moving all the way to VA. Your story speaks to how we should not fear to walk alongside the elderly when they most need us. God is in that journey. We can be his instruments of blessing, if we allow it, and in the process we are blessed, too. Thank you.

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