I’ve been telling the story of my midlife crisis and how I moved 3,000 miles away from the place I had lived for 20 years. God provided friends, work, a place to live, and more when I moved to Seattle.
After I had lived in Seattle for a few months, some things out of my control started happening that threatened my ability to continue living in my newfound home. It was December of 2007, and suddenly the economy drastically changed. My friends at church started having difficulty finding new jobs, and there were rumors of an impending collapse of the banking system.
Then the economy hit me personally.
The permanent position I’d expected to replace my contract job was revoked, and by January I was unemployed save for a part-time job that would not pay my bills.
In addition to money troubles, a friend of my elderly father called from Florida to tell me that his health was declining and that he was not thinking clearly anymore.
I decided right then I had to leave and take care of my father.
With almost no money, I again found myself packing all my belongings into my car with over 150,000 miles. It was clear I could not just drive diagonally across the country in January — too many snow-closed mountain passes in the way.
I made a plan to drive down the West Coast along the ocean where there was less chance of snow blocking roads. Then after San Diego I would cross the Desert Southwest, taking the southern most route to Florida.
I had barely enough money for the trip, and I knew I could not afford car repairs. Because my father was too sick and confused to do anything to help, I could not ask him for money. That motivated me to pray intently that God would provide and keep my worn car running.
God did provide in several ways. First, I had no mechanical breakdowns or crashes. Also, several of my online friends allowed me to stay with them along the way so I didn’t have to sleep in my car.
One guy my age in Northern California had some advice for me. He knew I was over 40 and driving around the country again after only a few months in Seattle, now with no job. He said:
Stop acting like an 18-year-old and act your age!
I am laughing inside as I think about how many people have said the same thing to me before and since!
I spent a few days in San Diego with a married couple who had moved there from my former church back East. They were extremely generous. Not only did I have a room to sleep in, but also pancakes cooked by the wife. She kept serving me and her husband more and more and more until I physically couldn’t eat it all! I definitely didn’t need to buy any food for a while after that!
I spent the night in Austin in the house of some same-sex attracted (SSA) Christian friends whose blogs I had been reading. I ate dinner with those guys at a restaurant, and we laughed and acted a little too stereotypically “gay.” I was not used to that kind of freedom from feeling forced to act traditionally masculine, so I definitely enjoyed my time there with them.
Eventually, I made it to Florida and moved in with my father. God provided all I needed, plus I got to go wandering around the U.S. like Tom Zuniga, enjoying people and places I never would have seen otherwise. God is so good!
Soon, the reality of my situation started to hit me: here I was, over 40 years old and living with my elderly father.
My mother had already passed away, and so I was his main caregiver.
I was facing the prospect of being my father’s nurse and housekeeper every day for the rest of his life.
I loved my father, but that was not the adventurous life I was dreaming of!
Has God ever led you down a drastic change of course? Have you cared for either of your parents, or do you anticipate doing so one day? How did/does being a caretaker make you feel?