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Celebrate Even in Pain?

My father had lost his leg. How could I possibly follow the apostle Paul's command to rejoice in all things?
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"Look at the female cardinal, Mom!"

Mom followed the direction of my finger as we marveled at the bird's appearance. The cardinal sat perched on her only leg—just like Dad.

My parents had been living with our family for five months when we noticed a small blood blister on Dad's big toe of his right foot. This was a serious concern as Dad was an insulin-dependent diabetic. Eventually, that tiny sore led my mom, dad, and me through an emotional journey fraught with heart-wrenching decisions, and eventually to an unthinkable operation—the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

While Mom and I sat on the lanai, Dad lay in a hospital bed at a rehabilitation center. We were all exhausted.

Exhausted because Dad hallucinated after the surgery, leading us to believe he'd lost his mind. Exhausted because he was angry and unkind to us and to the aides. Exhausted because my strong, outgoing, passionate father had become weak, introverted, and dull.

Where is my daddy?

Sitting on the porch that morning, I recalled the verse in which the apostle Paul tells us to rejoice in everything. I wondered what Mom and I could rejoice over, what we could celebrate. We knew that Dad wasn't progressing. One infection after another continued to plague him. Eventually, these infections led to another operation, taking the same leg above the knee. We knew that the above-knee amputation would significantly affect his rehabilitation. We also knew my 76-year-old father would probably never walk again.

The days trudged forward. Each morning, Mom and I continued our coffee ritual on the porch. The one-legged cardinal continued to visit our yard and feed with her mate. Often her partner ventured on to another feeder and brought back her sustenance, while she waited. He fed her. She devoured the seeds.

The thought came to me, and after a moment I said, "Mom, why don't I try putting birdseed on Dad's windowsill?"

My Own Rehabilitation Program

It was a thought from God. Dad had always been an avid over-the-edge bird-watcher. As a teenager, I was embarrassed when he'd stop the car in traffic and pull out his handy binoculars to view a particular species of bird. My mind went back to one particular day.

"There's a yellow-bellied sapsucker! First one I've ever seen in the wild!" He cut across traffic and pulled onto the median as I sunk down into the seat.

I don't care about the yellow-bellied sapsucker. I'm concerned about the red-blooded, football player, my 15-year-old self thought as my shoulders caved in. I pulled my coat collar close to my face and ducked under the dashboard, pretending to pick up an imaginary item from the floorboard.

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Related Topics:Blessings; Fathers; Joy; Pain; Reflection

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Displaying 1–3 of 4 comments


June 23, 2011  2:47pm

The article was is a timely and anointed testimony. I too lost my grandfather on March 17, 2011. Same story...lost both legs as we watch him struggle to maintain his cheerful character that always made us laugh. As i sit here today reading this article as tears slowly fall down my face. I know somehow, somewhere my grandad is still close to me..He even made sure I read this just show I would be confident that he is still near!! Bless you for sharing your story...

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June 20, 2011  3:13pm

To Sick, I've been reading CT comments for 15 years, and your honest sharing regarding your physical pain is one of the best and most moving comments I have ever read. May God hold you ever tightly in His grip. -BJ

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June 19, 2011  12:48pm

I have several health issues that will eventually prove fatal. However, I just can't seem to die, even though sometimes I want to. I am too sick to work and not sick enough to die. I am in pain. I am in the prime of my life. I feel like a waste and I feel useless, and I am always battling depression. I got addicted to pain meds a couple of times, and that's another mess entirely. So I am always in pain. These ailments and pains are keeping me from "living my life" and by that I say, I am considered intelligent, and I would probably have a totally different life if I didn't have a death clock ticking in the back of my head 24/7. I would be very successful, rich, "wanted", I would love my job, I would have nice STUFF, no worries, travel anywhere. And in the end, I would be too busy for God and I would be in hell for eternity. I am the dog who must be on a leash. I need to be hobbled like this or I will go to hell. Praise God for my pain and sickness, don't let go of me God!

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