I believe we all are quite capable of accepting others as they are and not as we want them to be.
My dad is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and is a mere shell of the man he used to be. It has been ten long, slow years of watching him slip away. There is so much that I miss about him and it’s heartbreaking to let go of the friendship we once shared. Each time I visit, I’d never know what to expect when I see him.
I live six hours away and try to visit him four times a year. He is in a foster home – a home with six Alzheimer’s patients, 24-hour care and home cooked meals. As I drive and think about when I arrive and I catch his attention, what would that moment be like? I really can’t imagine how it would be. I would take anything he could give me – whether it’s his face lighting up with recognition of his youngest daughter or a smile that he gives to all strangers who are nice to him or even a distant, vacant stare. I will take whatever he has to give me at that moment.
I didn’t realize how open my siblings and I had become until I had visited dad with my brother and sister who were also in from out-of-town. As family members, we tend to crush each other with expectations of what family moments and family get-togethers should be like. On this particular visit, my brother, sister and I went to get our dad for a drive. I could see in them what I had never seen before – an openness, a willingness to take whatever dad had to offer at that time. No expectations. No regrets that he may not have recognized them or that he was less of who is used to be. A pleasant acceptance of the smile they received or of the simple joy they’d see in dad’s eyes as he rode in the car.
If we could be so open to accepting dad whatever way he would be at each visit, we have the ability to accept each other and all others without expectations.
I will take a deep breath and let go of pre-conceived scripts of how I anticipate an encounter to be and just enter the moment.
This I believe.
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