As time passes, I’ve learned that patience and acceptance travel together. Try as I may, I cannot have one without the other. Being patient requires me to accept and adapt to a particular situation, no matter how difficult that process may be. This is where my faith in God sustains me.
Yesterday I spent some time with my mother at her nursing home. My husband and I arrived just as my brother was pushing Mom’s wheelchair into the conference room where we would have lunch together. Mom is just getting over a bout of bronchitis and her voice was raspy, but she was visibly happy to see us. But as anyone who is familiar with dementia will tell you, emotions can change in an instant.
We spread out Mom’s favorite treat of Chick-fil-A nuggets and waffle fries, but she immediately became preoccupied with her new surroundings. “Where am I?” she asked, wide-eyed and frightened, followed by, “Where is my home?”and “How did you get here?” I couldn’t tell if she was just confused by the new setting (not her normal dining area) or by our presence. Either way, she grew increasingly aggitated and eating was the last thing on her mind.
Mom’s food grew cold over the next 30 minutes while we tried to distract and re-direct her attention back to her lunch. After a while, she discovered the fish tank behind us, and we turned her to face it while she sipped her milkshake and talked to the fish. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and we knew in that moment it was more important to just enjoy our mother’s presence. I sat beside her and we talked about the different fish and their beautiful colors. After a few minutes she grew calmer and was again her happy self.
Knowing how much Mom enjoys being outdoors, we decided to take advantage of the break in the rainy weather, and wheeled her out to the patio. As always, she loved looking at the flowers and she enjoyed the fresh air. I took her for a little stroll along the walkway to see where it led, grateful to have this precious time together. Still, I longed to have a real conversation with Mom and share news about my life. I bent down and kissed her cheek. “I love you, Mom,” I said. “Oh, I love you too!” she replied. I knew she meant it.
It takes both patience and acceptance to endure life’s situations while we walk this earth. But it is my faith in God that gives me strength and hope as I await the day when Mom and I will once again converse and laugh together in our forever home.