The Art of Grace

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The art of grace: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

It is often said our children have so much to teach us about life, if we let them. And I have found that to be true.

Children have no filter. They are known for stating the obvious when no one else will. Asking the difficult or embarrassing questions.

They also approach the world around them with wonder. And every situation with an open mind and an open heart.

Somewhere along the way, we tend to lose that ability.

My father is now living in a memory care facility. I take my four year-old daughter to visit him regularly. He still knows who we are. He continues to take great joy in seeing her. And she in seeing him.

Our presence is always well received. The residents light up when they see her. My daughter looks past the wheelchairs. The adult diapers. She offers hugs freely and without reservation.

She has never acted afraid (though I would not fault her if she did). She has never judged. Stared. Pointed.

She did one time ask me to bend over so she could say something in my ear. She was unable to ascertain if one of the residents was male or female and wanted to inquire. Something told her the question should be whispered.

It was the first time she has ever not just said out loud what was on her mind.

During the same visit, one of the residents in the advanced stages of dementia was pacing and muttering incoherently to himself. Which is not unusual to see there. His affect was agitated.

Upon noticing my daughter, he changed direction and made a beeline for her. I was unsure of what to expect. Dementia patients can be unpredictable, even dangerous. I took a step nearer to her to I could intervene quickly if needed. And waited to see what would happen.

When he reached her, the expression on his face changed. In an instant, he seemed peaceful. He reached down and began to gently stroke her hair. He was smiling.

She was busy playing, but paused long enough to look up and return his smile. Then she continued with what she had been doing. He stood there for another minute or two, his hand on her head. And returned to his pacing and muttering.

It was a beautiful moment that took my breath away.

My daughter once asked me if all the residents in the facility have the same sickness (dementia) as her beloved BaBop. I told her they do. And so I believe she has resolved to offer them each the same love she gives him.

Truly the greatest lesson my child has offered me has come from the way she demonstrates the art of grace.

 

2 comments responses to "The Art of Grace"

  • Thank you so much. I don’t feel strong. This is the most difficult thing I have ever been through. Watching my dad’s decline is awful. But, I’m doing the best I can, and working to enjoy what time we have left with him. For me and for my daughter. And for him, to help him leave the legacy he deserves.

    posted by: efloraross on July 9, 2013

  • my grandmother had dementia. What a strong woman you are…it is heartbreaking.

    posted by: ashleabelle on July 9, 2013