Guest post by Sue Foster, LMFT
I knew for a number of years that the care of my elderly mother would probably fall to me, but I didn’t know what that would look like, and how that might be possible long-distance. My father died in 2004 after 59 years of marriage. Mom eventually seemed to adjust well to living alone and was able to have her needs met. I lived close by if she needed more care.
In 2005, a ministry opportunity was presented and I relocated to Nashville, TN from San Diego. I loved the work I was doing and was quite content to continue that as long as God allowed. I had also started a counseling practice and was becoming known in the community for the kind of work I did. I had friends, a wonderful church, a home I enjoyed, and I loved living in the beautiful “green” South. I missed California, but didn’t have a desire to move back.
As the years progressed, the chronic pain I’d had for years was getting worse and my mobility was becoming more limited. Due to changes in the music ministry, I was no longer able to be involved. I began to sense that “Aslan” was on the move and might be moving me, and that was confirmed in 2012 when my landlady called and said she had sold my home. After much soul searching and confirmation from my doctors that a “warmer” climate might be better for my health, I decided to move back to California and in with my mother for the time being. I also knew that her health was failing and that, as much as she didn’t want to admit it, she needed some help.
Giving up my counseling practice was hard, and establishing a new one in a community I was no longer familiar with has been difficult. After living alone for 30 years, living with a parent, especially when the relationship has never been close, has had its challenges. We have both had to make many concessions and adjustments to make this work. I will admit to being angry at God at times for this new season, even though I know this is exactly where he wants me for now. I have learned to appreciate my mother and to learn greater patience with her health issues, and that her mind is not as clear as it was in the past. I’ve also seen God provide resources for my own health issues, and I’m excited to look forward to returned mobility and less pain in the months to come. We both know that our living arrangement is temporary and that her caregiving will take on a new look when I move on.
Is this the “final” season of my life? I know it’s not. It’s this season. I also know that God is faithful and that, through this season, he’s preparing me for the next.
Sue Foster is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist living and practicing in Hemet, CA. She specializes in grief counseling, especially with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide.
Sue lost her daughter, Shannon, to suicide in 1991. Her resource book for survivors of suicide, Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone You Love, was co-authored with Dr. David Biebel, and was published by Zondervan in 2005. She also wrote several devotions for the recently published Hope in the Mourning Bible (Zondervan, 2013).
She returned to California from Nashville, TN in 2012, to be a caregiver for her elderly mother. However, with Sue’s own health issues, the roles have sometimes been reversed, and both she and her mother have dealt with the challenges of being, at times, both parent and child.