We’re All Going To Be There One Day, If We’re Lucky.

At dinner, a couple of nights ago, I had an experience I want to share. It has to do with how our elderly are treated, by family and the public. The information came to my two girlfriends and me by our young waiter (server, to be politically correct).

He told us that he had been frustrated and slowed down by an elderly man to whom he had to keep repeating his words. The man just didn’t get that when he said the chicken came with carrots and mashed potatoes that meant that it did not come with broccoli. And no, it didn’t come with spinach. No it didn’t come with corn either… and so on. Then the “server” said to the man, and I’m paraphrasing, “How many times are you going to ask me that question? I’ve already told you that it comes only with carrots and mashed potatoes.” And to top it off, the wife said to the server (he told us), “Thank you, he does that to me all the time.”

I looked at him with a blank face, and regretfully, made the decision not to comment. It would have been equally rude of me to humiliate that young man in front of my friends. But, I haven’t let go of the incident because I didn’t do what I should have. It was a lesson for me and I want to share it with my readers in case you’re ever in a similar position.

I should have excused myself from the table and taken that young man aside. I could have nicely told him that one day he too would most likely be in that old mans shoes or worse, if he lives long enough. That the brain just doesn’t function normally forever. And how would he like to be made fun of and reprimanded by some young person who didn’t have enough experience in life to be sensitive to other peoples feelings. That man may have been a most brilliant contributor to society at one time. Even if he was as dumb as a post, the ability to show kindness to another human being is the most admirable of human qualities. It can be learned, even by an old wife who has lost her graciousness.

I’m just as upset with myself for not doing what I should have, and will not let that happen again, I promise. I hope my lapse in judgement will serve to bring the idea to mind for others, that we need to graciously deal with the impairments of others, including the impairment of a young man with a lack of respect for the elderly. After all, unlike most other nations of the world, our country has not shown a good example when it comes to taking care of our older population. And that kind of mindset comes from the top down.

Until soon, I wish you love and kindness.

Patricia

PS: My two friends that were with me are remarkable, kind women. One went out of her way to go to a store and buy flip-flops for a homeless lady with very swollen feet the other day. The other called to see if she could bring me chicken soup last night after I had some dental work done, she had been working all day. I have lovely friends. Thank you, to the several other special people that offered to bring me anything I needed. Life is good.

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What Can You Do Right Now?

I had a conversation with a young woman recently who was stressful and having trouble sleeping because all she could think of was what life was going to be like without her father, whom she loves dearly. He has cancer and is on Hospice now. She was filled with sadness and emotions that were overwhelming. She could not function normally in her work or daily life because she was grieving for a loss which had not yet occurred. It’s understandable, we all go there at least a little when we’re aware that we’re losing a loved one.

I asked her what her father’s condition was presently: he weighs about 150 pounds and is about 5’6″. He has a very good appetite and has lost only about 5 pounds in the last 6 months. Of course, there can at any time be something else going on in the body besides the diagnosed condition. A seemingly new condition of the heart, the kidneys, or any number of other weaknesses can change a persons prognosis in a flash. But, this woman and her father appear to have some time on their side to share for a while. I speak from a layman’s observations here, nothing more. I have lost five loved ones since 2005; my mother and sister-in-law to cancer, my friend to Alzheimer’s, my father to Parkinson’s and my husband to congestive heart failure. All followed a similar pattern of weakening health; diminishing appetite and extreme weight loss.

It appears to me, in this young woman’s situation, rather than focusing on losing her father, she could chose to think of things to do with him and for him now, so that their last days together are the best they can be. So that she never has to look back and regret that she was so overwhelmed, she missed the opportunity to share some lovely peaceful days with someone so important in her life.

We talked about how he lives in Florida and she in California. She came up with ideas that she felt were reasonable and doable, like setting aside phone time that they could each count on regularly. About being purposeful in conversation, keeping in mind always to come from a place of love and peace. To talk about things that had always interested her father or brought him joy. She could ask his wife if there was something she was aware of that would be helpful, this would bring the two them closer together. At first she thought about him coming out to spend time with her, as they had always planned, and never gotten around to. Then she realized that idea may be more what she wanted and too hard on him. She would ask, but not push if he or his wife thought that would be difficult.

Her thinking was already going in a good direction and diverted from sadness. I think she’s going to be just fine.

What can you do right now, to ensure that your thoughts of a loved one, ill or not, are beautiful memories that are always loving and peaceful when brought to mind? Taking time for yourself and reflecting on what’s important in life can change your world and bring so much joy.

Until soon, I wish you love and creativity.

Patricia

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Thank you for your support!

Dear Readers:

Thank you all very much for your kind words!  I received an overwhelming response to my WINTER newsletter.  I’m posting it as a blog so it can be downloaded and forwarded to anyone you think might want to read it.  If you are not signed up for the newsletter, please use the following sign up form:

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HAPPY NEW YEAR to all.  I hope 2014 brings you love, peace and joy.

Download the Caregiving Cornerstone Winter Newsletter by clicking this link.

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