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The Power of Acceptance

Written by Alison Fiorini


Posted on August 21 2019

My mom gifted me this elephant. My mom was diagnosed in August 2015 with early onset dementia. A lot has happened since we heard the devastating news. Weeks later her best friend, my daughter, would be diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The impossible happened to our family. 

Three years later, we find blessings in that her dementia is progressing slowly and from everything we have come to learn about the disease, we are also blessed that she maintains her positive disposition. Of recent, my mom has taken to gifting away some of her special possessions in the home. This can be a common trait of dementia and we often can get discouraged and frustrated and tell her to put it back. When I visit she is always trying to give me this one specific item, a little marble elephant, and every time I thank her and place it back to where it has been for the last forty years. Last week as we were leaving my parents house, my mom ran to my truck holding the elephant and told me “I needed to have this”. Last week I finally obliged. 

There is power in acceptance. What is-is and if you can accept that there are things you simply cannot change, you will transform your life. I get a lot of peace from this lesson and reflect often on one particular edition of Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper called “The Power of Acceptance” where she talks about her own father's dementia.   She wrote: 

“When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I heard the words, but it took me several years to accept the realities of the disease.

I’ll never forget one moment when we were sitting outside in his backyard together. It was just a few years after he was diagnosed. There was traffic racing by on a nearby highway, but he thought he heard water flowing.

“Don’t you love the sound of that water?” my father asked me.

I corrected him. “No daddy, that’s traffic.”

He shook his head and insisted that he heard water. I corrected him several times until finally, I accepted his version of reality.

“Wow, Daddy, I hear the water, too,” I said. “It’s so calming.”

He smiled and nodded, relieved that I had met him where he was.”

As I held that elephant through the window of my truck, I looked at my mom smiling at me and I remembered Maria’s words. I needed to meet my mom where she is now. This is my mom’s current reality. While we wish we could have the feisty, tenacious mom we grew up with back, dementia is her new reality. Correcting her will not make dementia go away and won’t make me or my sweet mom feel better about our new life now.  We know with dementia you’re unable to remember current events but your memories from years ago seem to press through. I think those good memories of trips with her family bring her peace and perhaps she wanted to share some of that peace with me. Perhaps an angel above wanted to bring me some peace too and didn’t stop pressing until that elephant was mine. Thank you Maria Shriver for bringing Jordana in that moment.  Thank you for reminding me that it is better to be patient and kind than to always be right.

It’s not always important to win, acceptance brings you peace and deeper understanding of what life is really about. Goes the same with people and conflict - some people are who they are and accepting them for who they are will bring you peace. But, be careful with what you accept, patience is needed with the things outside of your control, like losing my sweet daughter or my mom’s diagnosis and the wisdom to change the things you can, like your perception of these extremely difficult trials we will all face someday and the wisdom that there is a greater purpose to life than what your human eyes will tell you.



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    Posted by tSbpsnUTALP | August 20, 2020
  • So many lessons in your post. Thank you 💟☮️ I believe those we ‘lose’ to dementia can still reach out to us. That elephant in some way was meant for you. Elephant symbolism includes wisdom, and protection…”Elephants with their trunks down are thought to be accumulating positive energy and pushing through obstacles, and are particularly potent totems for those seeking wisdom, or strength”. Your ability to inspire by sharing is very powerful. It brings hope and promise to many 🌈🌈🌈
    God grant you the strength and wisdom to continue doing so (🐘) ❤️💛💚💙

    Posted by Carmelina DiMondo DiCenzo | April 10, 2020
  • I remember and have always admired that feistiness in your mom. I admire her still. This post is so very very true. Watching our parents age, especially when it’s a disease that’s aging them, is so hard. My dad would say things and do things often so frustrating, but in moments, small moments, there was such beauty and so much love. I met him where he was every day. I meet him still. Xoxo xoxo

    Posted by Liana | August 22, 2019
  • Wonderful words of wisdom . Simple yet so meaningful.
    You and your family are an inspiration to all . 🌈🌈⭐️😇💕

    Posted by Laura | August 22, 2019
  • The symbolic significance of the elephant and it being passed on to to by your Mom is more meaningful than we can comprehend, it’s beautiful. As well I love the message of “acceptance” hits home in so many ways. Thank you!!!🌈🌈🌈

    Posted by Sonia | August 22, 2019
  • So beautifully written! Thank you for sharing and for the constant reminders of life’s lessons that make such an impact on all of us🙏🏻 I’m grateful to be following along :)

    Posted by pauline curcio | August 22, 2019
  • Dear Alison – this is such a profound piece, and should be shared with the world. There is so much power in your words in that they touch on a myriad of emotions, all powerful. If anything, they teach us to live in the moment, accept things that cannot be changed and celebrate those victories that can only be found when we do let go. Bless you, my sweet friend.

    Posted by Rita DeMontis | August 22, 2019
  • A message I need to keep in mind – better to be patient and kind than to always be right.
    Thank you Alison – I feel lucky to know you, your mother and Jordana xxx

    Posted by Claire Geddes | August 22, 2019
  • Thank you so much for this post, and for sharing Maria Shriver’s story. It has helped me tremendously in understanding some of the things my father says to me. He too has been diagnosed with dementia, and each day I see more of “him” slipping away. As I sit there with him each night, he tells me things he’s going to do, things which he clearly can no longer do: make the sauce, go and pick up my kids (who are now young adults), go grocery shopping. At first I would correct him and say he didn’t need to do those things anymore.. but now, I happily agree with him and we talk about what he has planned for the day. It makes him smile and it makes me feel like I have my daddy back.

    Alison, you have been such an inspiration to me… more than you will ever know.. and for that I am eternally grateful.

    Please continue to inspire people the way you have.

    Posted by Marcella Falconi-Berton | August 22, 2019
  • Elephants are a symbol of strength and they inspire us to be strong. May the elephant your mom gave you bring you just that. Thanks for sharing your story !

    Posted by mary fiorini | August 22, 2019
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