Patience and the present moment

Patience: n. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without gettingangry or upset 

Present: adj. existing or occurring NOW.

When I started 365 P Words back in April, 225 posts ago, it was my intention to focus on words that represented problematic issues for me – like productivity, practice, perfection, procrastination, perseverance, and PATIENCE.  

It quickly became apparent that other P words would intrude on these ruminations – some inconsequential: poodles, post-its and purple poop – and others of consuming passion: politics, prevarication and Palin. 

This week, I’m parent-sitting my 94-year-old Mom at my sister’s home in Nashville while she and her husband take a much-needed vacation, and PATIENCE is the word of the week.

Mom is trying to maintain her grip on reality, but her brain seems only able to grasp what is directly in front of her. This means that when I leave the room she’s in, I disappear, just like an infant thinks the toy you hide under the covers is gone. 

My sister’s house is not big, but it’s laid out in a meandering pattern, so it’s easy for Mom to lose track of her companion.  If I’m in the kitchen and she’s in the living room, she suddenly notices nobody’s there and she starts a quest for the missing person, poking her head in each room, calling, “Hello?? Anybody here??”

This morning while I was dressing in my bedroom, she came in three times, to call, “anybody home?” I tell her I’m dressing and she wanders off, momentarily satisfied, then in a minute she has to check in again. 

I know she doesn’t mean to drive me nuts, so I breathe deeply and try to avoid rolling my eyes. It wouldn’t be so bad to just hang out with her, but she wants to be good company, so she keeps asking me about my life – her attempt to be a good conversationalist.  In the moment, she is a good conversationalist; but my patience is tried when it’s the same conversation we just had.

I’ve been living alone for six years and have come to savor the chatter of my own tiny mind and I don’t like being interrupted. After decades of living with kids and a super-talkative spouse, I need the external silence. I can’t think or write without it. 

My sister and brother-in-law are singer-songwriters (in Nashville, what else?) – how DO they DO it with Mom always nattering away?  I’m in awe of them.

At the rate I’m going I’m not going to be a Buddhist monk any time soon. Patience? What’s that? I can be infinitely patient in traffic or in a slow checkout line, but in the present moment with my own mother? Not now.

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2 responses to “Patience and the present moment

  1. I truly empathise and sympathise. It’s difficult when someone you love no longer behaves as they used to.

    When my father is making me crazy, I try to recall some of the best moments, when he was encouraging, good company and fun – rather than his current old, argumentative and miserable self.

  2. Interestingly – Mom is MUCH sweeter than she used to be. When I was growing up she was pretty critical, so I still feel wary around her even though these days she thinks I shit ice cream.

    She has some form of dementia that isn’t Alzheimers (which is where the cranky paranoid stuff happens). Thank God for that, and I’m sorry that’s what you’re having to deal with.