Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to a college class on the pro-life ethic applied to disability, age and illness. A student in the class asked me for ideas of how a person could come alongside a caregiver in a support role. Here are several of the ways folks have done this for us over the past four and a half years:
One woman packed my freezer with meals—one a week for an entire year: wow!
A man offered to get the oil changed in our cars.
Six women have faithfully cleaned our house for four years (two teams of two or three have come once every month).
Volunteers consistently help with mat session—Pete’s physical therapy. We’ve had teams of three or four people for each day of the week who come once a week for an hour (3-4 pm) on their specified day to help stand Peter up, bounce him on the ball, stretch out his limbs, stand him in the standing frame, and so on. Several of these come from our church, but also from our larger Christian community. We especially need men for this particular activity, as it requires some lifting.
A teenage boy from our church volunteered on Thursdays from 8-5 (for a time) to come into our home and stay with Pete. He learned speech or occupational therapy exercises, so that his time with Peter was very productive.
A few people have learned to stay overnight with Peter. Men who are willing to do this are still able to get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep during the night, while they take care of Peter’s needs of turning, changing, giving nighttime water and meds.
A college girl mows our lawn. She also cooks supper one night a week for us.
Givers have contributed funds to an account that we use to pay people for respite and other extra care, to give us times away.
Faraway friends have written us notes and cards filled with Scripture, keeping us aware that they continually pray for us. They encourage us in the day-to-day perseverance required for a task such as this.
One college girl blessed me a lot by asking about Peter, his current needs and memories we have of him before the accident.
One woman from our church made cookies at Christmas in order for us to give to our neighbors—she helped us make a connection with our neighbors and night nursing help by giving us something to bless them with.
Friends nearby call me occasionally while they are at the grocery store, to see if they can pick up anything for me while they are shopping for themselves.
One of my children gives almost a month every summer to come and stay with us and take over Peter’s care so that we can have one month of total break.
Doug’s brother spends Wednesday evenings with Peter, so that we can both go to prayer meeting.
Eleven families pitched in for funds to buy us a wheel chair van three years ago early at the start of our care-giving journey.
A Christian businessman paid to hire one of Peter’s cousins to work in our home 30 hours a week for three years back when he had a trach and his care was relentlessly intensive.
A Christian homeschooling couple (he was a doctor, she an occupational therapist) donated five days of their Christmas vacation to stay in our house and care for Pete to give us some respite time.
A Christian friend from Pennsylvania came for a week when Joshua and Beth were engaged, in order for me to get a head start on wedding planning.
One of Pete’s brothers and one of his cousins trade out spending Friday nights with Pete, a night we don’t have covered with paid help from insurance.
Our daughter in law keeps a blog going online, giving people updates on Peter’s needs and asking folks to pray.
Girls from our church pop by sometimes and ask me what needs to be done around the house.
So as this year comes to a close, we are grateful for the body of Christ, for how these of you mentioned above as well as many others have been the hands and feet of the Lord’s ministry to Peter and to us. Those of you who would like to help: our biggest current need is for mat session crews. Contact us if you are interested in being a part of Team Pete.
Our Thanksgiving is rich indeed.