She Lost Her Mind. He Found His Heart.
We met on an airplane at Chicago’s Midway airport – both of us on our way home. He was coming from Florida, from being with his dad at his 90thbirthday. “Yesterday, we played golf together. How great is that!”
I was on my way home also, after having been in Texas working on a client’s market research project. He was in the middle seat. I was the lucky one with an aisle seat.
I asked about his visit, his dad; and, then his mom.
“About three years ago, she got Alzheimer’s. At first, it was just small confusions. Then, one night when she got in the car to drive home, she couldn’t find the switch for the car’s lights and drove home without them. That ended her driving.”
He shared the painful story of watching his intelligent mother, a chemical engineer, lose her mind. At first, the disease progressed slowly. She recognized her son’s face but sometimes couldn’t remember his name. Then, over time, she didn’t recognize him at all. Lately, she had lost her ability to even speak.
I listened with a broken heart to this man describe this devastating journey of the last three years.
“For the longest time, I could see no good whatsoever in what my mom and dad were going through. How could any good come from this? But, lately, I’ve finally been able to see some good.”
He explained that in his lifetime he had never seen his dad express much affection or tenderness. “I can’t ever remember being hugged by my dad. I also can’t remember seeing him express much affection or tenderness even to my mom. He was a mechanical engineer and his life was all rational and logical.
“But, today, I see him put his old and frail arms around my mom. I see him softly stroke her face with his wrinkled hands, and whisper sweet words in her ears. I see him kiss her on her forehead and take her hands in his. I see him love her tenderly, telling her how much she means to him.”
Sadly, his mom is losing her mind. Happily, his dad is finding his heart.
I can relate. I don’t recall my dad ever hugging me when I was growing up. I think our first hug was at my college graduation when I was so excited and jumped into my dad’s arms. I remember him starting to cry, something I had never seen before. When I asked him what was wrong, he said “I’ve never hugged you before.”
I can relate to watching those we love in the clutches of pain and feeling so helpless, unable to fix the situation. My youngest daughter’s near death in 2009 and again in 2011. My wife’s daily, ongoing struggle with chronic pain.
I can relate to how these losses have changed my heart forever. They have given me a life-changing gift – a more tender heart. I’m a better man because of them.
I expect all of us have suffered some form of loss – health, finances, friendship, family, business.
Can we say, “Through our losing, we are finding?”