One of the best things about reading a good book is seeing the results of the characters’ choices while watching the consequences of those choices unfold in a matter of hours. Talented authors leave us pondering those choices as well as our own.
If And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, had not been chosen by our book club this month, I would not have read it since, for some reason that I can’t remember, I never finished Hossenini’s first book, The Kite Runner, but last night I finished his last book and I am pondering.
The author drew me in with an interesting fable that foreshadowed the first choice in the book – a father’s decision to sell his young daughter to a wealthy woman. The rest of the story weaves through the lives of an excess of characters and back to the woman the little girl became.
Three other characters at different times in the story find themselves responsible for the personal needs of someone who has become unable to care for themselves, and each must choose between personal freedom or the responsibility of another. One caregiver makes this observation,
“They say, ‘Find a purpose in your life and live it’. But sometimes it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose and likely one you never had in mind, and now that I have fulfilled mine, I feel aimless and adrift.”
During 2013 many of my friends took on the responsibility of caring for another person and in doing so they gave up much of their personal freedom. Their situations ranged from sick babies, a loved one with cancer, a son confined to a wheel chair because of a car wreck or spouses with dementia.
Each one stepped up to the plate with courage and grace. They may have had doubts in private moments, but their public faces were (are) noble.
Though they didn’t choose the situation, they did pick the way they handle it.
Before Christmas a friend and I made a visit to the home of someone who is taking care of his wife of over sixty years.
He calls her Ma. During our visit she sat in a wheel chair holding a baby doll, and her only response was to sing Happy Birthday when her daughter prompted her.
I commented on how pretty her hair looked and her husband said, “Ma, tell her who fixes your hair.” He smiled at me proudly because he does her hair every day.
There is a new wheel chair ramp from the sidewalk to their front door, but it isn’t for Ma. It is for their twenty year old grandson who since last year has been paralyzed from his waist down; the result of a car wreck.
While she helps her son adjust to his new reality, the young man’s mom is helping her dad take care of Ma. During our visit there were jokes and laughter, family stories, chocolate and a peace that really does pass understanding.
The past year has been demanding and hard on this family yet when they look back I hope they see that in caring for each other they fulfilled their purpose.
Mother wrote in her journal, “There is a reward (or purpose) for every sorrow; and the sorrow itself is the reward (or purpose).”
One of the blessings of welcoming in a new year is the hope it provides. I pray for His wisdom in 2014 to make the kinds of choices that fulfill our purposes, and glorify Him.