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My Heritage

by RACHEL MCDONALD YANAC AGING PARENTS Caring for aging parents long-distance Feeling connected to those back home Saying goodbyes
My Heritage
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“For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.”
Psalms 61:5

I recently attended two funerals in the same week, each one for a person who not too long ago I would have considered “elderly.” The sobering thing, however, is that the deceased were parents of friends my age, forcing me to come face to face with the fact that my own parents are probably considered elderly by most people. 

I don’t like to think about that. I want my parents to stay the same age they were when I left home for my first overseas assignment. But the cold, hard facts state that I am older today than they were when we said our first of many airport goodbyes. 

I’m so thankful that a colleague who was taking life coaching classes a few years ago invited me to be her “guinea pig,” because it brought to the surface my disconcerting feelings about watching my parents age from afar. I mentioned that I worried about one of the “what ifs” of life happening before I had the chance to tell them everything I wanted to say, and she encouraged me to find a way to do that before it was too late. The end result was a letter I wrote to celebrate their 50th anniversary, which also helped me reconcile my conflicting feelings. 

“The unwavering knowledge of eternity, and the fact that we will spend it either in God’s presence or far away from him, is what took me overseas. People need to know that truth, and they need to know how to make sure their eternity is spent with God. You showed us how to do that, and taught us to show others, and that’s why I went to Peru. The unwavering knowledge of eternity is also why I can stay here, even when I would love to live closer to home. As David says, our life on earth is just a breath, and I know that we have all of eternity to spend together. 

Psalm 61:5 is my prayer of thanksgiving both to God and to you: For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. 

Closing Prayer
Gracious Father, Thank you for giving me the heritage of parents who fear your name. And thank you for the promise that we WILL spend eternity with our loved ones who love you. That unwavering knowledge of eternity takes a bit of the sting out of living so far away from my parents as I watch them age from afar. Please help me to rest in the peace of your promise. Amen.
Article: A Letter to My Parents on their 50th Anniversary by Rachel Yanac Read the complete letter that I wrote for my parents’ anniversary and posted on my blog.
Song: When I Get Where I'm Going by Brad Paisley ft. Dolly Parton This song helps me to look forward to the beautiful family reunions that we’ll have one day in heaven.
Song: The Older I Get by Alan Jackson This is not a Christian song, but it sure does help me feel better about my aging parents and getting old myself!
Question for Reflection

If you live far away from family, what are some practical ways that you can stay connected to aging parents?

Rachel McDonald Yanac
March 28, 2024

I pay a small amount each month for an internet (VOIP) phone service so that I can have a U.S. phone number that is easy to call from any phone in the U.S. This way my parents don’t need to try to call on WhatsApp or other online services that don’t always have good connections. We don’t try to do anything fancy like video calls, since that usually ends up causing frustration with technological glitches… just a regular old phone call. I call my mom and dad every Saturday morning so we can just “catch up on life,” and all three of us look forward to these visits. I tell myself that I’m doing it for them, but our weekly visits do me just as much good, and quite possibly more!