He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. (Psalm 40:2)
…I was at the bottom of the ditch between north and southbound lanes of the Interstate.
I probably fell asleep at the wheel. I know that one moment my car was heading north and the next it was turned west, running over an orange construction cone. I managed to control the vehicle, not slamming on brakes and steering to roll with the the terrain.
I bumped down into the culvert, nosed the car north and, as it was running and did not seem damaged, was working to ease it back up onto the blacktop when I became stuck in the muddy bottom.
Smart phone, auto club, yada yada yada. Just like that, I was winched out and driving home. After a County Sheriff showed up and told me he wouldn’t ticket me for reckless driving and just chalk it up to stupidity.
Yeah, have a nice day.
Talking with my wife at home, I found out I’d been snoring the night before. Full disclosure: I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP. Came on just like that in my late 50s. The mask must have slipped in the night and I was probably oxygen and sleep deprived. The sun through the windshield warmed up the car and just like that, I was westbound on a northbound Interstate.
Just like that, we are old and do old folks’ stuff. We fall asleep at embarrassing times and drive less aggressively but also less competently.
My wife talked about me needing to recognize my age and not turn around from a late night meeting and drive (which I had) to run right back to work early the next day (did that too).
Just like that, we were into a discussion about formerly easy household tasks that now seem like hard labor, changing diets, things with which we used to roll that now cause impatience, and other old people gripes.
Now, these are not unique to caregivers.
What strikes me is the way we didn’t accommodate the changes and evolve with them as we went along. Just like that, they’re all in our face. We didn’t age gracefully or go through midlife crises or any of that. We went flat out as caregivers and just like that the role mostly went away and just like that we looked around and found ourselves aged.
So back to yesterday’s mishap – down in the ditch, just like that, my inner teenager represented as a compulsion to Instagram the picture of the tow truck setting up to pull me out.
I was struck by the cross-shaped apparatus being deployed atop that green hill not-so-far-away. It’s the sign of life that Christians see by faith, and Jesus planted it right where we live, among the visible, sensually perceived signs of decay and death.
So my heart, mind and spirit are still in working order (assuming that meditating on the cross while being towed from a ditch isn’t a sign of mental degeneration, which can also arrive just like that.)
Anyway, as you come to the end of a season of care giving, you will find that a bunch of changes set in while you were so busy. Be gentle with yourself as you recognize and adapt to them.
And don’t drive when you’re tired.
And if you’ve neglected it, commence a gentle turn toward things eternal: In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be ashamed. Do not cast me off in my old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. (Psalm 71)