“You’re my daughter, right?”
“Yes, Mom, that’s right.”
She was introducing me to a new friend she’d met at lunch.
I knew it was coming, the day she might question how I fit into the big picture of her life. My sisters and I have been observing the shift in her memory for several years. How would we feel when came the time she ventured into another dimension of her mind, one that might not include us?
And here it was. The moment. Or at least close to the moment. She did, after all, recognize that I was probably part of her family. Bonus!
Plus she was clearly happy and excited to introduce me to her new friend, whose name she didn’t know, only that “She’s funny, you’ll like her”. Another bonus? Did she recall that in our family, we value a sense of humor above many other qualities? A stretch, perhaps, yet these are the things I see families grasping onto all the time. Suddenly, the mundane becomes crucial. We search for clues, hoping to uncover the person we remember, finding comfort in any way we can spin the story to suit our needs.
Once I understood the futility in that exercise it became evident that I owed it to myself to lose my dependency of what once was and look for the perfection in what now is. We’ve heard it before, everything happens for a reason. Though my philosophy is a variation on that theme (everything happens. Period.), it does invite my wiser self to the table, to sit in on these sessions and find the beauty, the wonder and yes, the perfection. Allowing myself to see these things is not something I can later articulate; rather it’s something I feel. I know. I accept. I relish.
The path to this ability to relish this truth did take some deliberate steps. Some steps were inherently part of the unique perspective on life I came into the world possessing, some I learned because of my desire to feel good when visiting friends and relatives who are in this uncharted phase of life.
And I routinely invite others, who have yet to view this developmental stage as the precious time in life it is, to determine how their own unique perspective can guide them to a more fulfilling connection with those they feel have disconnected.
What’s really bothering you when you see this shift in cognition?
If there is repetition of conversation (the most common of frustrations, I’ve found), what meaning are you attaching to it that creates this frustration?
Are there fears you can identify?
What is preventing you from appreciating this person as they now are?
These questions can be the beginning of a process that helps you to fully embrace, fully engage, fully feel all that life has to offer. We get to choose on this one, as we do with everything in our life: How do you choose to feel about this? If you prefer feeling joy over pain, then start right now. Start questioning what you’ve come to think of as truth and look it squarely and deeply in the eyes. Remind yourself that it is YOU in charge of how you see the circumstances, not the other way around.
And of course remember that it’s love that will ultimately guide you. Love for yourself, love for others, love for what is.
My mother was right, her knew friend is a barrel of laughs. And the next time I visited, she asked me about her granddaughters, my daughters, indicating she was accessing a part of her memory that included us. Bonus. For now.