When you get to the age that Pam and I have reached, you are going to have parents that are not well. This is true for most of the friends that we have; parents who are old and infirm who need care, with tough decisions to make regarding that care. In this we are not alone.
The situation is somewhat more complicated in that we live on the other side of the world from our remaining parents. My Mom is in England, Pam’s Dad is in Canada, and both are more than 24 hours away by plane, even if you make all your connections. Pam made that trek over the last few days, taking some 28 hours to get from here to there. Fortunately her trip came close to the end of the school year, so the cost was borne by the company I work for as my contract calls for them so fly me and my wife home once a year.
Pam’s Dad has not been well for several years, but his health took a decided turn for the worse in February of this year when he suffered a heart attack and underwent emergency surgery to have a clot removed near his heart. That attack seems to have triggered a new and alarming deterioration in a pre-existing condition known as tic douloureux. He has been in decline ever since.
The attack came as Pam was in Thailand, presenting the results of her work in Cambodia over the last two years to a new group of doctors and community health workers in this part of the world. Their response to what she had been doing was enough to convince her that the time had come to put together a new partnership to deliver Christ-centred health care to the myriad of villages that dot the Cambodian countryside.
She returned to Malaysia to face a tough decision: whether to go back to Canada immediately to care for her father, or remain in Malaysia to put a conference together that would capture this momentum of support for Cambodia’s needy people. Anyone who knows Pam knows that this decision was agonizing.
For a while it looked as if her Dad’s situation had stabilized, so after much prayer she decided to go ahead with the planning for the conference, an endeavour that required the coordination of specialists from Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Phnom Penh, all of whom had prior commitments. This had meant that Pam had to make numerous trips to Singapore and Cambodia and many conference calls on Skype. Meanwhile her Dad’s condition continued to deteriorate.
Finally last week the conference went ahead as scheduled, and the Lord brought all the elements together, and others that Pam had not been aware of, resulting in a new initiative that promises to be a huge blessing to the people of Cambodia. The work is clearly not done, but a map has been plotted for the road ahead, and commitments made that if kept will see a Christian witness throughout Cambodia.
With this major hurdle behind her, Pam was now free to fly home to be at the side of her Dad as he faces surgery in less than two weeks. My prayers go with my faithful wife, who with her every breath seeks to do what is pleasing in God’s sight, though it may cost her. I know that her presence will be a blessing to her Dad, and a comfort to her family who have borne the burden of caring for Dad for many months.