Today is my mother’s eighty-fifth birthday and we will celebrate with coconut shrimp, whipped mashed potatoes, chocolate ice cream and Chardonnay. She’ll get phone calls and birthday cards and flowers from friends and family. She’ll feel loved and appreciated.
And tomorrow she won’t remember any of it. Dementia does that. It’s indiscriminate about what memories it steals. My mom can recall the name of her first boyfriend but doesn’t remember anything about my childhood. She remembers the anguish in losing a son to cancer but can’t remember the births of her grand-children.
It basically sucks.
But I’m a silver-lining sort of girl and I can see that this horrible disease comes with its gifts.
It was hard in the beginning, before I knew what was happening to my mother’s brain. I was hurt and resentful that she could recall minute details about my brothers’ birthday parties but couldn’t remember attending my college graduation. But somewhere in the last two years that resentment melted away and patience took its place.
I’d say that’s grace, really.
I didn’t pray for patience. I actually cried myself to sleep mid-afternoon in a total break down after contacting some assisted living facilities. I let the sobs and heartbreak take over. I gave all of the resentment and sadness it’s space to just “be.” I mourned the mother I used to have.
And I woke up with patience.
I’m not talking about the kind of patience you need when the lines are a ten people deep at the grocery store. I’m talking about compassionate, loving patience.
Compassionate patience is the result of two, much larger spiritual elements. Trust and surrender. I trust that God has a plan and I surrender my will to it and in that surrender I am gifted with patience.
“Infinite patience produces immediate results,” I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say in a video recently. I chuckled at how simple it really is.
Once we recognize that our efforts to control a situation are futile and remove our attachments to the outcomes we are essentially just the co-pilot with God flying the plane.
It’s like those cars that can parallel park for you! If you grew up in Chicago you understand what I’m talking about.
Anyway, here’s the most ironic thing about patience. If you pray for it, the last thing God is going go to give you is patience. He’s going to give you situations that test your patience! Opportunities to exercise your patience muscles.
But people, we don’t need to take five deep breaths or count to ten before we act. We need to trust and surrender and be present and the patience will come…infinitely.