When we bought our Farm back in 2016, my parents had come to live with us. My Dad had dementia. Within a couple of years, my Mom would be diagnosed with dementia also. We became a multi-generational family living under one roof. And let me tell you, it was an adjustment! There were 8 of us living in 1300 square feet. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms. Kids with special needs and grandparents with declining cognition. Let’s face it, I was in over my head. I would have told you then the same as I tell you now, I have no special skills when it comes to either of these categories. I have no extra understanding and no extra patience. Neither special needs nor elder care come naturally to me. God knew my never-say-die attitude, though. He used it. I can never take credit for the successes. It has all been God guiding me and working through me.
Before dementia, my parents were avid gardeners and landscapers! They loved flowers and grass. Daddy would grow starts in his greenhouse so he could share flowers with every person who walked by or stopped for a visit. He and Mama would sit on their porch swing for hours enjoying the beauty they had cultivated. It was their passion.
The Farm had been left to its own devices for a number of years before we moved in as the previous owner had health problems that precluded him from maintaining the pastures and small yard. Our work was cut out for us… in more ways than we realized.
It didn’t take long for us to know that the size of our house was not going to work for our increasingly needy residents. The boys were getting older, and Mama and Daddy became less and less likely to care for themselves in basic ways. As we tried to carve a Farm out of the neglected countryside, we began the daunting task of putting an addition on the farmhouse and remodeling the interior. All while homeschooling and caring for people and the animal’s basic needs. It was certainly a season of ups and downs!
Mama and Daddy would look out their windows or take a walk and be dismayed about the condition of the land. Although Daddy loved the trees he could see thru the window, and they appreciated the beauty of the greening fields in the Spring, there were times their hearts would long to sink their hands in the cool dirt.
Mama and Daddy passed away in July 2021. Daddy first and then Mama. Thirty hours and three minutes apart. Their bedroom had been remodeled into a three-room apartment with a balcony for eating lunch al fresco. God so blessed us to be able to spoil them with a beautiful space and flowerpots on the balcony. Daddy could dead head and water the flowers whenever his mind remembered that it needed to be done.
Although their rooms were finished long before their passing, the rest of the house still needs a few odds and ends tied up. The landscaping didn’t get finished before they left us to be with the Lord.
It’s Spring Break on the Farm this week and my best farmhand, fourteen-year-old Max, and I are working on the yard and vegetable garden. The plan is to bring in soil and reseed the back yard. The plan is to establish a solid garden, plant pastures and improve fence lines. I’ve declared in my heart this year to be the year of growing. Both inside and outside.
Max and I spent hours working in the yard and on the garden that first day and I wore blisters on my heels. I was disappointed because it put a damper on how much I thought I could accomplish for the rest of the week. Then, I spotted them. Daddy’s shoes.
A few years ago, I had purchased some slippers for my Dad. The kind with a sole so you could wear them outside. What would be easier on my heels than my Daddy’s slippers!? What would be more fitting than to slip on my Dad’s shoes and take on the task of preparing the grounds for landscaping? His feet were only a little bigger than mine, but his shoes will be hard to fill. He was a hard worker. He was an encourager. And he loved being outside. And so I set about my tasks, wearing my Daddy’s shoes all the while knowing I will never quite be able to fill them.
This is our year. Mama and Daddy will have to look down from Heaven to see our progress, but this time they will be able to see it all with clear minds and through the filter of beauty that only the Lord can give. Watch us grow!