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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mother's faith changed her life

By Stephany Sofos

It's been five years since my mother, Catherine, died. And many people when they see me often ask how am I dealing with it all. I always answer the same: I am fine, and still in recovery.

To be the caregiver for someone you love, particularly a parent, is a rewarding but also devastating job.

Physically, it is exhausting. Sleep deprivation can be the standard when dealing with their night terrors and your constant worry.

Emotionally, the toll upon mind and soul is life-changing because all your life you have been the child and, in the blink of an eye, you have become the parent.

As they become frailer, you pray for stability, hoping there will be no breaking of bones and hospitalizations.

I was fortunate to have had a nurse's aide a lot of the time; and I was young enough to deal with the physical situations. However, I had my moments of resentment, especially when my friends and brothers found love, married, and started families of their own while I spent my evenings and weekends with my elderly mother.

I felt that I was short-changed and losing out on life. But during those difficult days, my mother's faith changed my fate.

One late night during a Christmas season, when I knew everyone was going to parties, I was feeling frustrated and angry about my circumstances. On top of it, Mama was being difficult and would not let me lift her out of her wheelchair to put her to bed. She kept pushing me away. Finally, I threw up my hands and said: "OK, I quit. You can sit there for the rest of your life, I don't care." I then stomped out of the room.

She started crying and said: "I don't understand why God is doing this to me! Why can't I stand on my own and walk anymore? Why don't I just die, I am such a burden to you."

In that instant, my heart changed and I rushed back and knelt at her chair. "Mama, I am so sorry, I am just so tired," I said.

She replied, "I know, me too." She placed my face in her hands and smiled as she said, "It's OK. I understand."

I knew we were both suffering, we both had lost a lot of our freedom. But as mother and daughter we were together because of love and not just obligation.

"Mama, I tell you what, I will be your legs and you will be my heart, and together we will work through everything," I said with tears in my eyes.

"I think maybe that is what God has always wanted for us, to be friends," she said.

From that time on, we were a team, going everywhere together, wheelchair and all, friends through thick and thin for another six years.

Now, as I think back, I realize that those years were some of the most blessed and rewarding ones in my life. I learned patience and the depth of friendship from the bonds of love.

I tell my friends that when situations appear to be burdens, look closer with an open heart because often they are God's messages and lessons that we are meant to learn while we have our time here on Earth.