as my father is living in a world filled with things that are happening that are totally out of his control, he’s become so disagreeable. everything that people tell him, is wrong – he’s the one who knows what’s right. instead of engaging in an argument, i listen, and say ‘you might be right.’
being around someone who’s negative can be extremely draining for my soul. our son tai is visiting from austin, tx, (yay!) and wanted to visit my parents. i jumped at the opportunity to have someone with me to share in the shower of negativity. i wouldn’t have to be alone this time.
as i listen with my compassionate heart, i remember not to take things personally, and to model tools that may or may not help my dad shift his perspective from negative to positive. i try not to focus on the right and wrong, and i definitely stay away from wanting to change him. “hmmm, you might be right,” i say patiently.
last night our dear caregiver rose had made them a big pot of japanese noodle soup. and according to my father, it was too salty and the noodles were too long (ha!)…. (my mom loved it and ate the whole thing!) my father complained, “i had to cut up the noodles so she could eat it! but i couldn’t eat it, i could feel my blood pressure rise as soon as i took one bite!” “how sweet that she made you such a nice soup. did you thank her?,” i listened. “you take it. we can’t eat it.” he said in disgust. “let’s add some water, and a potato can absorb the salt,” i suggested.
“NO, you can’t fix it! nobody can fix it!” he yelled. and what i heard in my heart, was the truth. he was yelling at the world – “we can’t fix mommy! we can’t fix my heart! we can’t fix anything!” and bless his kind soul, it’s true. he can’t control what life is unfolding for him, so i don’t take it personally, i praise rose for her efforts, and thank her profusely, and i let my father have his space to be angry and frustrated, at life and the situation. “hmm, you might be right, maybe it can’t be fixed,” i try to see it his way.
as i left, i gave him a big hug, and i heard him sigh, ‘you might be right.’ wow! that’s progress! i didn’t have to ask ‘right about what?’ – that the soup can be fixed? that he shouldn’t eat bread? that the therapist wants mom to have cold compresses, not warm ones, and that the professionals actually know a lot? that mom needs to have smaller bites to chew, and not have food stuffed in her mouth? that he’s surrounded by people who love him and that he’s not alone? i just smiled and listened with my heart.
he wanted to walk tai and me down to the garage pushing my mom’s wheelchair. and so the four of us walked down to the dismal garage, and i thought about him holding onto every possible minute with us. he’s so happy we came to visit, even just so he could complain and have someone listen to his fears…
to know that he’s not alone on this mysterious journey…was just enough to help him sleep last night.