Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Of Para-flus and Paracletes

The results are in: Dad's H1N1 test came back negative, but he tested positive for para influenza, which in most healthy people will run its course in 3 - 10 days.

But Dad has pulmonary fibrosis and struggles for breath now ...

Certain words fascinate me. For example, cleave means both to cling together and to slice apart.

Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.

And para has a number of meanings and uses. Wikipedia gives a succinct summary of two definitions that seem contrary, that seem to be at odds with each other:

- a prefix widely used in various compound words (para-olympic, para-medic, para-gliding etc.) which can signify alternately: "alongside, altered, beyond, contrary," originating from the Greek preposition para that means: "beside, next to, near, from," and also, "against, contrary to," similar with Sanskrit para "beyond." 

Para influenza has made my Dad's heart race far too fast; has made his concentrator pump out oxygen levels at a rate of 4 litres rather than 2; has made him cough up vile green gunk; has forced him to sleep 18 hours a day; has zapped his strength; has almost curtailed even minimal movement. It is certainly against, certainly contrary to, what we want for him. It might even have altered the course we thought was charted for him.

But through it we have seen many people come alongside, beside, next to, and near him. Paracletes have encircled him with love and concern and practical guidance.

Wikipedia, again, describes paraclete as follows:

Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, that can signify "one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court"). The word for "Paraclete" is passive in form, and etymologically (originally) signified "called to one's side".

Let me give you just a few examples:

Dr Rimmer - his pulmonologist who, after assessing Dad and wanting to admit him, went and checked the realities of the bed situation in the hospital and reluctantly decided that he would receive better care and rest at Deb's home ("You're sensible," Dr R said to Deb!). From that time she has called frequently to check up on her patient, exhibiting the same level of care and compassion she has always given Dad over these years. Last night she called at 7:45 - what other doctor does that any more?! - and discussed with Deb the plan of care and action that she feels would be best for Dad in the short-, medium- and long-term.

What other doctor calls at 7:45 in the evening? Dr Husain, that's who - Dad's family doctor in Three Hills and someone whose family we have grown to love as an extension of our own. Deb apologetically called him at home, and he immediately phoned a late-night pharmacy in Calgary with a prescription to ease the excruciating cramps that Dad was experiencing from the Tamiflu. He called upon the recommendation of

Dr Naomi Chelli Gunti, the eldest of the Chelli kids, who called from the States to see how Uncle was doing. She listened while Deb went over the symptoms and as they were discussing treatment options, she said, "Deb, what about the drug that's used for the unbearable cramping caused by Crohn's disease?" Deb called Dr Husain, who agreed that this could work and called the Rx in. Dad has not suffered that terrible pain since.

Zeba Husain - Zeba, Dr Husain's wife, cares very deeply for Dad and on Saturday she called me just as I was closing the TH to head up and see Dad. "Karyn, I've made some khichdi [kitcheree] for Uncle Allan - will you take it to him?" I gladly agreed. When I got to Deb's house I said to her, "Zeba made khichdi for Dad ..." and she immediately took it, saying, "Dad asked for khichdi this morning!" Zeba, you were the direct answer to what he needed that night and I thank you for your sensitivity to the promptings you felt to make that ultimate comfort food for Dad.
Almost too weak to eat, Dad managed to swallow some of Zeba's khichdi

Flowers and flags - Peter and Mel Mal's girls came to the TH on Saturday: "We made a picture / a flag for your Dad!" He has them on his window sill ... And that same day Naomi and John, and Sue and Les, sent beautiful flower arrangements, reminding us of all the beauty to be appreciated in the ashes of the situation we were facing. Debby cleaned the TH for me so that I could get to Calgary. Don and Norma came over and got me back on my feet again on Sunday afternoon.

Dozens of you have called, left messages, sent cards, written words of encouragement for Dad and us - and he has read EVERY comment, asking about the people he doesn't know personally and asking God to bless them for their kindness.

There are five very special paracletes who have come alongside their Grandpa / Poppa / Bop whenever they can. Luke, Craig, Matthew, Elliot and Oliver - how he loves you boys! His spirits brighten measurably upon a visit from you guys. There is no doubt how much you love each other and him. 

And THOUSANDS of people are praying. You are all paracletes as you have come alongside Dad, bringing him before the throne of grace around the clock.

The most valuable Paraclete of all for Dad - for all those who have trusted in Christ - is God the Holy Spirit. This is how He is described in the gospel of John: counsellor, helper, encourager, advocate, comforter ... the one who makes free. As you all pray, Dad feels the presence of God and the power of all your prayers in a very real way.

I and my family - siblings, nephews, aunts and uncles - have derived much comfort and love from your outpourings of sympathy. But two special reassurances were given to me personally that have brought me peace regardless of whatever lies ahead.

The first was a comment left by Sumitra. Sumitra was in the group of men who met Dad as he disembarked off that ship 55 years ago in the port of Bombay. He and Dad studied together, prayed together, served together, preached together, ate together, laughed and cried together. He has always held a very special spot in my parents' hearts,

This dear man's comment read: "Dear Karyn, sorry to learn of your dear Dad's ill health. Be assured of my prayers for recovery of his health. I praise the Lord for Bro. Allan's input in my life. I remember welcoming him in Mumbai 55 years ago. God has made him blessing to many through his and yes through your Mum's simple life style and teaching because of which many are serving the Lord and I am one of them. Be encouraged, Dad will be well soon."

I could not help but think of the story recorded in the gospel of John chapter 4 about the nobleman whose son was dying. He sought Jesus out and begged Him to come to the house to heal his son. Jesus said only six words: "Go thy way; thy son liveth" (verse 50). And the child did. When I read Sumitra's last seven words, it was as if the Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke them to me. Those last seven words broke through my grief and despair.

And then Tuesday morning, Dad was too weak to read, so he asked me to read the morning passage from the Daily Light devotional that Mum read and recorded events of note in for years.

The captioned verse was this: As Your Days, So Shall Your Strength Be

My breath caught in my throat and I checked the date. You see, last year, on February 27, I boarded the plane a few days ahead of Dad, BA and Deb as I was flying on points and had to leave on that day. I had been worried about Dad's low energy levels and the long flight ahead. God brought this verse to my mind, and I have claimed it on behalf of Dad almost every day since then. "As many days as You want him on this earth, give him strength for each one," I ask. 

Yet for the past few days, since Thursday, I must confess to my shame that I had completely forgotten about it.

But my Paraclete gently reminded me that God is in control by sending the verse I had been praying for almost a year directly back to me right when I needed it most. Not only that, the entire reading is of encouragement and strength. Truly God's timing is impeccable ...

Sitting on the floor beside his bed:
"someone to watch over me"
There are two more paracletes I must mention. The first is our beloved Deb, who faithfully cared for Dad and continues to care for him. She it has been who sat up with him on those first critical nights, monitoring his pulse and O2 levels, giving medicine, holding the straw to his mouth so he could take a few sips of liquid, washing him, cooling his forehead and piling on hot water bottles and blankets as he shivered his way through his fever until it broke. She has had very little sleep in the last week, but she never once expressed even that she was tired.

As a matter of fact, at the conclusion of Dr Rimmer's most recent phone call, Dr R applauded Deb: "You managed very well the care of a patient who should have been admitted." Thank you, Deborah Joy, from all of us who love him and you.

The last paraclete is our beloved Dad himself. In an almost whisper he marvelled at the prayers offered up on his behalf from the people of God all over the world. "I am so blessed," he murmured. That Tuesday afternoon he finally felt able to pray aloud, asking God's blessing on our simple lunch. And after he thanked God for the food, these are the words he said next, the ellipses indicating where he had to pause for a breath:

We remember others ... just as sick ... weaker ... more needy ... without people to pray for them ... Hold them in your tender mercies ... Heal them ... Forgive them ... Restore them ... Comfort them ... Meet their needs ... today.



  1. Great thoughts of care. May the Lord bless you more favor too. Praying for DAD.

  2. What a wonderful Friend we have in Christ. He's the only One who can carry us through situations like this. Still praying... I love you Grandpa. <3

  3. Your Dad is a man of God. I cherish the moments of his Bible classes in BBBC, Bangalore Many lesson I learned from him encourages me in the ministry still. Praying much for him and thanking God for his life.

  4. Hope n pray that sir is recovering?

  5. The Lord our God bless you Karyn and Deb for the care you take of your Dad during his time of sickness. Praise God for all those who are help to you during this time. Love 2 u n ur dear Dad

  6. Sam and Heather GillespieJanuary 30, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    So sorry he is still so unwell. Praying for him and you girls as you care for him.

  7. I Peter 4:19 encouragement

  8. LOVE:). An amazing post. So thankful for all those who gather round to lift you up and how in the midst of his illness he still thinks of others!

  9. You are all very dear to us Karyn.... And tell Deb she is amazing!!

  10. Appreciate the updates! Psa 41:10

  11. Love and miss you, Dad. Praying for you. xoxoxo

  12. Mary Di Pilla OlinykJanuary 31, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    Your blog posts are so real, authentic and Godly ... We too are praying for healing for your daddy .. May he continue to feel God's love , encouragement & healing hands on him. Looking forward to seeing his vibrant & healthy self in two weeks .

  13. Love you all, you are all a huge example of God's love at work in one family.
    See you soon I hope,


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