Walking the Last Miraculous Journey with Dad
“Your father has only a few more months to live,” the specialist doctor told us privately. Despite my dad’s health having deteriorated for months, those dreaded words still stung!
Long before the pandemic, I had felt the urge to reach out to my dad for his salvation. Each time we went back to my hometown in Melaka, we would gather my folks to pray aloud for my parents’ well-being before we left. As the years passed, I had the opportunity to lead my mother in prayer to invite Jesus into her heart. Nevertheless, the situation was different with my dad.
For my dad, going in and out of the hospital was becoming more frequent between admissions. This time, upon being discharged and reaching home, he complained of breathing difficulties. Immediately, he was sent to the hospital for the second time. A strong inner feeling pushed me to arrange a fellow believer to visit him regularly since we live in different states.
That weekend, I went back to see my dad and introduced a friend who is a pastor. Surprisingly, he was open as the pastor shared Psalm 121 and played him a Hokkien Christian song on YouTube.
The following Monday, my heart skipped a few beats when I received a call from the hospital. The nurse told me that my dad was complaining and quickly passed the phone to him.
“Where is everybody? Why is no one visiting me? I’m going to die soon!” my dad wailed.
I reminded him that I had visited him two days ago but to no avail. In that opportune moment, I asked him, “When the time comes, I know where I am going. When the time comes, do you know where you are going?”
That intense conversation turned into a little argument.
“What is there for you to lose to accept Jesus? You don’t lose anything by accepting him but there’s everything to gain!” I said.
After a while, the conversation trailed off and ended with me saying I would see him again the next time I’m back in Melaka.
The next day I received a surprise message from my pastor friend: Hi Joshua, just visited your dad and he accepted Jesus into his life and followed me as I led him in the sinner’s prayer. I asked him, “Do you want to invite Jesus into your life and let him be your Lord and Saviour?” He said, “Why not?”
What an amazing turn of events! It reminded me of the time when Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-12). For one planted the seed, another watered it, but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Keep sowing and keep watering, for we never know when the harvest will come.
Reflections on Journeying with Ageing Parents
The frequent trips back to Melaka have taught me a few lessons:
Do the small stuff. In his condition, my dad can’t do the little things anymore, like shaving. So I did it for him when I could. It was effortless for me, but such acts touched him deeply. It feels good to be clean-shaven! Doubtless, they were precious father-son time for us.
Do it even when they say, “No need!” Parents don’t want their children to spend unnecessarily. But often, the things we want to buy are necessary for them. For the longest time, my mother refused a walking aid. Nonetheless, I went ahead and bought her a walking frame for indoor use and a four-legged stick for outdoor use. Now, she is happy using them both.
Do the big stuff. With my dad’s declining condition, it was no longer feasible for my mother and sister to care for him. Accompanied by my wife, I drove my out-of-town eldest brother around Melaka looking for a suitable nursing home. When making such decisions, take note that it is their last journey, so make it as comfortable as possible for them.
Do care-giving as a team. All of us siblings and some of our spouses were involved in caring for our elderly parents in one way or another. A few of us took turns to visit, especially those who live near enough. Even if travel is costly, remember that there is no substitute for your presence.
While everyone may have perfectly valid reasons for not going back often to visit their ailing parents, our time and presence matters to them. If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s that old age can be filled with so much boredom, especially if they are no longer mobile or suffering with pain.
Yes, time is precious for busy city dwellers. But our gift of time and presence is even more significant for folks who know their end is near. For them, everyday is a vicious cycle of endless inactivity. No wonder our old folks crave our love and presence. They just don’t say it out loud until it’s too late.
Remember to take time to engage with them, make amends and do what is right while they are still alert and able to communicate well. Do not take for granted that there will be another day to do it. Your presence makes a difference, and say to them often, “I love you!”
>>READ: “We honour our Father when we honour our parents”
About the Author
Among the different vocations he has had, Wee Siong Tan was a door-to-door salesman, a self-learnt IT specialist, and a seminarian. Now, he contributes to digital marketing, theological review, and church ministry in Our Daily Bread Ministries Malaysia. He thrives on coffee, commentaries, and cinema.
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