Advocate: a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
Driving down the road this weekend I saw a billboard advertisement sponsored by abortion opponents. It showed a picture of an unborn child in the womb and a simple message: “I need an advocate”. I’ve probably driven past that billboard a hundred times and never noticed it before. On this particular day, however, I was already thinking about the importance of having an advocate.
My 92 year old mother has diminished vision and hearing capabilities. She fell recently and broke both of her legs. In the several months previous to her fall, I and two of my brothers had carefully piloted my mother’s ship through some stormy and perilous waters as she underwent major life changes in the wake of the home-going of my sister who served as her caregiver. But now she was caught up in the whirlpool of the medical/healthcare machine.
Mom has always been a shy person. I inherited my shyness from her! Being a shy 92 year-old woman, who cannot hear well and who can’t see clearly, in need of emergency and continuing medical care is a precarious position to be in. My brothers and I are spread all over the country as we collaborate in the management of her care. From our remote geographical locations, seeing that all details are cared for, making sure that nothing is overlooked or ignored, assuring that nothing is assumed or falls through the cracks, is a prodigious undertaking. It is doubly so when the “system” is permeated with inefficiency, peppered with incompetence, and populated with those who cannot communicate clearly in the English language. That last observation may not be politically correct, and it might be regarded as elitist; but I refuse to concede the idea that it’s my fault that I am not fluidly conversant in all of the various accents and dialects that one finds in the public arena (Let me hasten to add that not everyone we have dealt with falls into that broad description. There are indeed some wonderful folks in the system for whom I am very grateful).
The whole experience has given me a new appreciation for the role of an advocate. Without an advocate – one who pleads for or in behalf of her – my mother, and probably millions of others in similar situations, are totally at the mercy of such a system. That is unacceptable. My role as her son, and Healthcare Power of Attorney is to advocate for her. To speak up for her. To ask the questions. To challenge the system when necessary. To “babysit” the medical/care-giving personnel as it relates to Mom’s care. In my opinion, there is no one who can take on such a role as well as a family member who loves the patient deeply.
I was impressed, as I continued to drive, by the realization that an advocate is desperately needed by those at both extremes of our life span; the unborn and the elderly. My thoughts then extended even further to consider the fact that, on another level, no one is excluded from the desperate need for an advocate – someone to plead for, or on behalf of us. The Scriptures assure us, as those who have come to Christ in faith, that, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2.1). Jesus speaks to God on our behalf and says, “Father, I know they are sinners, but they have placed their confidence in me, they have trusted in my work on the cross and My blood has cleansed them. They belong to Me.”
Apart from our Divine Advocate, we have no hope of avoiding being swallowed by the gaping maw of the whirlpool of divine, eternal judgment. At times I worry lest my imperfect advocacy on behalf of my mother should allow her to be swallowed by the whirlpool of the medical/healthcare machine. There is great comfort, however, in knowing that at the end of her life, her Divine advocate will not fail her. He is her Savior. He loves her even more deeply than I. He will unfailingly pilot her to eternal safety…. and He will do the same for me. How about you?
CROSSING THE BAR
Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar. – Tennyson
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