Friday, 1 March 2013
My wife Elizabeth devoted twenty-nine years of her life to caring for the children. She fell ill in the course of her struggle to sustain them, and she died of polymyocitis at age of fifty-six.
We had noticed signs of this illness five years prior to her death, and tried to do the best for her without hindering her desire to serve the children. It was indeed a great struggle for her, especially while handling boys with breathlessness, vomiting and diarrhea. She used to keep awake for days to give them suction, oxygen, inhalation therapy and artificial respiration. It required constant vigil.
The prolonged exhaustion and stress wore her down, producing muscle paralysis and associated problems. But she continued caring for the children until she could no longer swallow and had to go on nasal feed. She did not want to leave the children to be away in hospital, so we treated her at home under the care of specialists. She was hospitalized only during the last eighteen days of her life.
When Elizabeth was moved to the intensive care unit, the health of Johny and Ronnie also worsened and so they too were hospitalized. At the same time, my father was admitted to another hospital owing to a heart problem.
The doctors gave her the best treatment possible in Kerala, and all those who prayed for her did so in the expectant hope of her recovery. But God answered our prayers differently.
She was totally bed-ridden, with tubes inserted for nasal feeding. On the day she became fifty-six years old, a month before her death, we gave her a birthday card signed by me and the children. Although she was immobilized and uncomfortable with muscle pain, she carefully looked at the birthday card and commented: “I know today is my birthday, and I choose to be happy”. There was no reason for her to be happy that day. Infact she was writhing in pain. It was her choice to be glad. She did not accept God’s will in her life with a long, disappointed face. Rather she always had an assurance that flowed from the gentle touch of God’s loving hand.
Elizabeth was so firm in her faith that she always took part in the business of the kingdom, whether at the office or in caring for the children. Along with her personal involvement in ministry, she strongly supported me. I was able to go around the world several times a year only because of her. All who know our situation will acknowledge that she bore the brunt of our suffering and afflictions. Yet she never complained.
I have seen her spending time in prayer not only during family devotions or during times of great need, but also in the quietness of the night. Her personal devotion and meditation on God’s Word were the secrets of her strength. Her singing voice was comforting to the children and me. She was fond of teaching Scripture songs to children.
Although she lived on this planet only for fifty-six years, Elizabeth did more work than an ordinary person would have done with twice the lifespan. What she needed was rest. God in His wisdom opted not to heal her physically. Finally, He called her to eternal rest on 26th November, 1998.
It was a very difficult task for me to go and tell Johny and Ronnie about their mother’s death. She was everything to them. Before her body was moved to the mortuary, I went to their hospital room and quietly told the boys that it had pleased the Lord to call her Home. Immediately, Johny replied “God must have felt that it was good for Mommy to be called Home”. Ronnie nodded his head in affirmation. The Lord gave them enduring peace, the peace that passes all human understanding. This peace is available to all of us today.