The Power of Acceptance•
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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