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There Used to be M&M's

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2023 5:00 am

There Used to be M&M's

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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November 25, 2023 5:00 am

For as long as I can remember, when my father came home from reserve duty in the military, he brought my brothers and my sister a pack of M&M’s. Stretching past his military service as a chaplain, he and my mother extended the treats when we returned home from school. Each time we arrived with our luggage (sometimes filled with dirty laundry), we’d walk into our rooms to find a bag of M&M’s waiting on the pillow. When they moved away from the house where they raised 5 sons and a daughter, their new home carried the tradition. Bringing our wives, then children, and now even our grandchildren, the familiar brown-bagged treats (sometimes the yellow bags of peanut M&M’s) from my parents awaited every family member.

Except this year.

Nearly succumbing to congestive heart failure, my mother endured a dramatic and difficult year—as did my father. A US Navy chaplain (Captain) and pastor for nearly sixty years, my father stepped into the role of caregiver for the first time, and I watched the process take a toll on him. It felt odd. While I’ve cared for my wife with severe disabilities for nearly forty years, I’ve never seen my dad in this role. I found myself placing a hand on his shoulder much like he did for me many times following my wife’s now eighty-plus operations. He sat with me in countless ICUs, hospital rooms, and waiting rooms. Now I sat with him.

His seasoned faith remains intact and strong, yet he struggled to wrap his mind around the relentless assault of continued medical setbacks. With the same gentleness and encouragement he offered to me over decades of caregiving, I returned the favor.

I’ve often heard that “…There’s no pain like watching your children hurt.” Watching your parents hurt must run a close second.

With a herculean effort by medical staff, along with my mother’s grit, she pulled through. While not where she’d like to be, she’s further than most expected. After a couple of months away from them, we returned to their home for Thanksgiving. They look tired, older, but optimistic. The family pulled together, and the house looks great. The only significant difference I noticed was an oxygen tank in their bedroom. For the first time in my memory, however, no M&M’s waited on the pillows.

The absence of those treats indicates a passage and a farewell to parts of who they used to be. Their home stands in a heavily wooded area of upstate South Carolina. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, the trees surrounding their home continue shedding an entire color palate of leaves. The loveliness of autumn is a sad one that brushes hearts the same way the wind grazes branches. So it is when watching those who loomed large in our lives diminish in vigor but not in beauty.

As many will attest, shedding smaller things—the wisps of everyday things taken for granted—often brings a tear. Deep feelings often rise to the surface faster during holidays. For many Americans, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a difficult season of slow goodbyes, bittersweet celebrations, and the ache of absence for some.

Yet, not all is sorrow. Slowing our lifestyles to the pace of our hearts, we can cling to each other a bit tighter. After dinner, we can pause a little longer at the table—or sit quietly for an extra couple of minutes with those we love. If a chair is empty, we can fill that seat with cherished memories.

Families nationwide feel this kind of heartache that is deeply connected to caregiving. Helping those caregivers is challenging, yet it remains critical to the caregiver and their loved one. Part of that help is assisting caregivers in grieving without them sinking into despair. Doing so always involves redirecting our gaze to gratitude.

The treats I’ve enjoyed for a lifetime no longer await me, but the loving hands that placed them are still here to hold. Placing that candy on their pillows instead, I now possess a greater understanding of the joy they both shared—for a lifetime. I discovered gratitude can be found this Thanksgiving in something as simple as a bag of M&Ms.

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This is Peter Rosenberger and one of the reasons I wrote my new book A Minute for Caregivers is because I remember the sinking, despairing feeling of struggling as a caregiver. No one knew what to say to me. I didn't understand and others didn't understand me.

For decades I foraged along and tried to find my path through this medical nightmare that Gracie and I have endured for nearly 40 years. And I've learned to speak the language of caregivers. I speak fluent caregiver. No pastor, no counselor, no medical provider, no friend should ever throw their hands up and say I don't know what to say to that caregiver.

Because I do. Give them a copy. This book is called A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday. They're easy to read, one minute chapters that speak directly to the heart of a caregiver and you can get them wherever books are sold. A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday.

Friends don't let friends care give alone. Several years back my mother had a pretty rough patch with congestive heart failure and she pulled through it. She did fine. It was a lengthy recovery and it was a challenging time for both she and my dad and during that I observed a few things and so I wrote about this. It got picked up by several papers for Thanksgiving and I thought I'd read it to you all today. I don't normally like to read things but I felt like this article would be poignant for you all today. My mother is doing fine.

She's pretty spry. My father is struggling. He is frail but faithful and this article seemed to mean a lot to many folks. It's called There Used to be M&M's. For as long as I can remember when my father came home from reserve duty in the military he brought each of my brothers and my sister a pack of M&M's. Stretching past his military service as a chaplain he and my mother extended the treats to when we returned home from school.

Each time we arrived with our luggage sometimes filled with dirty laundry we'd walk into our rooms to find a large bag of M&M's waiting on the pillow. When they moved away from the house where they raised five sons and a daughter their new home carried the tradition bringing our wives then children now even our grandchildren the familiar brown bag treats sometimes the yellow bags of peanut M&M's awaited every family member except this year. Nearly succumbing to congestive heart failure my mother endured a dramatic and difficult year as did my father. A US Navy chaplain he was a captain and pastor for nearly 60 years my father stepped into the role of caregiver for the first time and I watched the process take a toll on him.

It felt odd. While I've cared for my wife with severe disabilities for more than 35 years I've never seen my dad in this role. I found myself placing a hand on his shoulder much like he did for me many times following my wife's now 85 plus operations. He sat with me in countless ICU's hospital rooms and waiting rooms.

Now I sit with him. His seasoned faith remains intact and strong yet he struggled to wrap his mind around the relentless assault of continued medical setbacks. With the same gentleness and encouragement that he offered me over the decades of caregiving I returned the favor. I've often heard that there's no pain like watching your children hurt. Watching your parents hurt must run a close second. With a herculean effort my medical staff along with my mother's grit she pulled through.

While not where she'd like to be she's further than most expected. After a couple of months away from them we returned to their home for Thanksgiving. They looked tired, older, but optimistic. The family pulled together and the house looks great. The only significant difference I noticed was an oxygen tank in their bedroom.

For the first time in my memory however no M&M's waited on the pillow. The absence of those treats indicates a passage and a farewell to parts of who they used to be. Their home stands in a heavily wooded area of upstate South Carolina. As we prepare for Thanksgiving the trees surrounding their home continue shedding an entire color palette of leaves. The loveliness of autumn is a sad one that brushes hearts the same way the wind grazes branches. So it is when watching those who loomed large in our lives diminish in vigor but not in beauty. As many will attest it's the shedding of smaller things, the wisp of common things taken for granted that often bring a tear. Deep feelings often rise to the surface faster during holidays. For many Americans Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a difficult season of slow goodbyes, bittersweet celebrations, and for some the ache of absence. Yet not all is sorrow. Slowing our lifestyles to the pace of our hearts we can cling to each other a bit tighter. After dinner we can pause a little longer at the table or sit quietly for an extra couple of minutes with those we love.

If a chair is empty we can choose to fill that seat with cherished memories. Families across our country feel this kind of heartache, one so deeply connected to caregiving. Helping those caregivers is no easy task yet that help remains critical to not only the caregiver but also their loved one.

Part of that help is assisting caregivers in grieving without them sinking into despair. Doing so always involves redirecting our gaze to gratitude. The treats I've enjoyed for a lifetime no longer await me but the loving hands that place them are still there to hold. Placing that candy on their pillows instead I now possess a greater understanding of the joy they both shared for a lifetime.

This Thanksgiving I discovered gratitude can be found in something as simple as a bag of M&M's. With your permission I would like to end this section of the program with a special hymn that I play for my mother. It's called Abide With Me. It is maybe one of her if not her favorite hymn.

Anytime she wants me to play it I play it for her. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me. This is Abide With Me.

This is Abide With Me. You've heard me talk about Standing With Hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?

No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs and this facility is run by a group out of Nashville called Core Civic. We met them over 11 years ago and they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks, all these things we can reuse and inmates help us do it. Before Core Civic came along I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville and I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere, feet boxes and so forth.

I was doing all this myself and I'd make the kids help me and it got to be too much for me. I was very grateful that Core Civic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction and we'd love to be a part of this. That's what they're doing. You can see more about that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle so please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well but the majority of amputations are lower limb and that's where the focus of Standing With Hope is. That's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prostheses and she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled.

I mean she's been an amputee for over 30 years so you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking and it goes to this prison in Arizona where it's such an extraordinary ministry. Think with that, inmates volunteering for this.

They want to do it and they've had amazing times with it and I've had very moving conversations with the inmates that work in this program. You can see again all of that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to standingwithhope.com slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there. We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be and we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ and that's the whole purpose of everything that we do and that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope. Standingwithhope.com
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-25 06:08:23 / 2023-11-25 06:12:40 / 4

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