The last two days, we have been learning the story of Barb Farrington and her daughter Katie following Katie’s accident in 1998. Today is the third and final installment of their inspiring story. In this post, Barb also shares some important words for new caregivers and shares a tender, personal story of forgiveness.
A New Season
In a short time, Barb’s and Katie’s lives had radically changed. Barb had given up a job she loved, lost her husband, and lost the daughter she once knew. Now she had to bond with the new person who was her daughter now. It took some time to work through that.
There was more, too, with which she needed to come to terms. “In order for our home to be really healthy and happy, we need to believe in a bigger picture.”
She made the decision to fight for her joy. That decision was the beginning of the journey back from despair. “I found myself again. In caregiving, you live someone else’s life so much. So much went into her, I didn’t know who I was. I was a walking, talking body. As I began to remember that I was a person, too, things began to come full circle.”
What’s important to her today?
“My faith, my family, going to River City Church, my friends. I don’t know what I would do without my friends and my sisters who give phone support. Friends are God’s angels to Katie and me.”
“I can truly say that God is good. There was a while that it was hard to get that out: God is good. I can truly say that I’m content. Katie’s happy. She was mad at God for a while. She didn’t really want to pray or anything. But she’s come full circle, too.”
Barb says she feels they are entering a new season. “I can’t put it into words. It’s a new feeling that I have for Katie. Overwhelming tenderness comes as close as I can to describing it. I’ve been tender with her, but it’s just different. I feel the need to spend more quality time with her, to connect on an even deeper level.”
“I need her. She’s always been important in my life, but I really feel I need that interaction.”
Never Give up Hope.
Barb has some important words for someone just beginning the caregiving journey:
- There is always hope. Always hope. Never, ever, give up hope. I strongly believe in Jeremiah 29:11: ‘I know the plans I have for you…’
- Make sure that you take time for yourself.
- Don’t lose who you are, because it’s really easy to do. The person you’re caring for needs you, and they need you whole and healthy.
- Don’t be afraid to share all your thoughts with God. Keep going to God, because He will meet with you. Even if you’re mad at Him, He’ll meet with you. I was more disappointed than mad. It was one disappointment after another. Then it seems like you’re not worthy to expect anything but disappointment.
- Be around people who will encourage you.
- Find something to laugh about every day. You have to have some humor.
A Life Worth Living: A Story of Forgiveness
One of the hardest things for Barb was to forgive the young man who was driving the night Katie was injured. She hated him with a passion. After the accident, police told Barb he never once asked how Katie was doing.
This young man’s family was well-known in the area, and lies began to circulate about the night of the accident. One lie was that Katie was driving that night.
The state took the young man to court. He was sentenced to eighteen months of boot camp. Barb had refused to see or speak to either him or his parents until that day in court. As far as she was concerned, he was spoiled and already an alcoholic at the age of eighteen. She’d heard that he had a past record of bad behavior without suffering the consequences of his actions. This fed her anger.
It was in the courtroom that God broke through Barb’s bitterness. When she saw him sitting there in his jail uniform, she thought, “He’s just a boy.” It was then that her heart began to change toward him.
One Christmas after they moved to Lewiston, the phone rang. It was the young man’s mother, Cindy. She told Barb, “I needed to call you. I was out shopping today, and I saw a woman with her daughter. They were having such a good time together, and I thought of you and Katie. You will never be able to do that. I’m so sorry.”
Barb told her, “That’s all I ever wanted. Just to hear you say, ‘I’m sorry.’ That’s all I ever wanted.”
Barb forgave Cindy, and they developed a friendship. Cindy went around to the schools in the area and gave talks about the horrors of drunk driving.
Cindy asked Barb if their family could come see Katie sometime. Barb agreed, and her dad came over to be with Barb to lend her moral support when the day arrived. When their family walked through the door, Barb’s dad broke down and cried. He told them, “My girl’s just been hurt so terribly.” It was a time of tears and forgiveness.
The young man asked Barb, “What should I do to help you, to try to make things right?” That was when Barb discovered that he had found God. Barb told him, “The best thing you can do is marry your girlfriend, know Jesus as your personal Savior, be active in a church, and be a good citizen. That’s how you can make this better for us. I want you to go on and have a good life and do all the things that a person should do to make a life worth living. If you do that, then you’ve helped us.”
Not long after that, Barb helped him get his record expunged. For her, the reason was simple. She thought about what Jesus did on the cross for humanity. Jesus forgave her sins and wiped her slate clean. She now had the power to do that for someone else.
It was a cleansing act for Barb, bringing beauty out of the ashes of their lives.
Photos courtesy Grace Thorson