No. 502



There is one thing I have learned to never do as a speaker. That is,
never tell your audience that you are not prepared, because they will find
it out soon enough. This is also true for many other areas of life as well.
A good example is showing up late for your first day at work on a new job.
This reminds me of the fellow who thought he wanted to be a boxer, until he
got in the ring with a fellow who really wanted to be a boxer. Life is
exciting when you face each new day, with all its promise, and learn to take
adversity in stride and keep a positive mental attitude. Sometimes this is
hard to do, especially if you live in the midst of a negative situation for
a long period of time. This can be even more dramatic when you think you see
the light at the end of the tunnel, only to find out it was the headlights
of an oncoming train.
These thoughts came to mind when I began to dwell on the best way to
tell you a true story about a lady from Southern Indiana who wrote to me
recently. She said, ³You may use my story if it helps others.² Obviously, I
believe it will or I would not waste your valuable time.
This story has to do with an elderly parent, a 53-year-old single
daughter who has taken care of her for years, then hospitalization, medical
bills, long-term care and siblings who are concerned about their
inheritance. Of all the correspondence I have received over the years, the
most tragic is when I read about the way siblings treat each other,
especially when there is property or money involved.
I want to give you some of the details so you will have a better mental
picture of this family ³squabble² as I will call it. The one point I would
like to make clear here in the beginning is that if you even have the
slightest possibility of something like this developing down the road, make
plans and take steps now to avoid this kind of family crisis. Usually this
can be taken care of in a legal way, if everyone agrees, and if they don¹t,
get an attorney anyway and deal with it now before a crisis comes along and
you are forced to deal with it. At this point it usually becomes an
emotional issue and respect, courtesy, kindness, logic and common sense go
out the window.
This 53-year-old single lady had lived with her mother, now 87, in the
old homeplace for all of her life. Not long ago her mother suffered a series
of strokes and had to be hospitalized. After three months she was forced to
leave the hospital and go to her own home or to a nursing home. We all know
what a nursing home costs these days. This lady has two brothers and two
sisters. The older sister insisted the mother not be sent to a nursing home
but go back to their old homeplace where the family could care for her. She
went back complete with hospital bed, wheelchair, IV pole and all the
nursing equipment. Now, here is where the picture becomes a little unclear.
This single 53-year-old lady needed to work to have some income, so a
couple of home care providers were hired to come to the home each day. The
retired older sister, who lived seven miles away, would also come to help
take care of her mother. Well, this arrangement only lasted for one week, as
the older sister took the mother to her home and very quickly ran up a
$1,000 bill and wanted the family to pay her. She then got the younger
sister to file for ³guardianship² so they could take out a $20,000 loan
against the house to pay the debt and future bills. I¹m sure by now you are
getting the picture, but to make a long story short, the older sister had
made $75,000 a year when she worked full time and had a husband who was a
mail carrier with a good salary. The 53-year-old single daughter could not
afford to pay the utilities and other expenses, so a decision was made to
sell the house. Interestingly enough, the older sister¹s son has purchased
the house and is turning it into a bed and breakfast. This single lady, who
took care of her mother most of her life, has now moved out, bought a
trailer and is starting her life over. She says, ³I don¹t know if I can
forgive my sisters, even though the good book says we should.²
In relation to this story, I have jotted down a couple of things I would
like to leave with you. First, it¹s been said we are made in a crisis. This
is not true. We are revealed in a crisis. This goes for everyone in this
tragic but true story. Secondly, what happens to us is not nearly as
important as how we handle or react to it. And here is the best advice that
I could ever give someone in this situation. Always do the right thing.
Above all, don¹t try to get even. Your peace of mind will be worth more than
the value of any material possession you could ever receive.
I would simply say to this young lady, and 53 is young for me, always
remember this verse of scripture that has helped millions of people over the
hump, who have found themselves in a similar situation. Phil. 4:13 says, “I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.² God keeps the score
and I¹ve found that He is good at it.
(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You
may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)