Patience. Some say it’s a “virtue”, others say it is “a companion of wisdom”. I say, when exercised correctly, patience is an act of love. We practice patience with our children, particularly when they are young, with our spouses when they make us crazy, and sometimes…if we remember…with our parents…especially as they are aging.
My sister-in-law, Rosaleen, is a person with infinite patience. As her mum’s health slowly declined, Rosaleen’s patience exponentially increased. Everyone in our family watched in awe (and with gratitude) as she courageously stepped into the role of caregiving daughter and lived in that space for many years without complaint.
When Mama wanted to go to bed, Rosaleen was there to assist. When Mama asked the same question for the twentieth time, Rosaleen answered with kindness. When many of us thought Mama should enter a nursing home, Rosaleen resolutely disagreed. Taking Mama out of her beloved home was not an option to consider. Instead, Rosaleen got outside help to come to her and together everyone practiced patience in helping my magnificent mother-in-law leave this world.
By the grace of God, Rosaleen was near to Mama when she took her last breath…but she nearly missed the moment. The doctor, having been called to the house, examined my mother-in-law, and asked to see Rosaleen in the hall. For a few tense minutes they whispered about the inevitable and reentered the bedroom where Mama was resting. Not a second later, Rosaleen saw her mum turn to look at the sepia coloured wedding photograph of herself and Dada hanging on the wall. Mama then took one more breath and that was it. She was gone. Someone not practicing patience might have missed it, but not Rosaleen. She was there.
She was there in that moment and she was there for everything that happened in the whirlwind of a week thereafter. She made the arrangements for a celebration of life to honour Mama. She arranged the wake at home, the removal, and the sit-down lunch at the hotel after the burial. She cooked and baked and fed our large family and the many visitors that called in. She made endless cups of tea and opened more bottles of wine than any of us want to remember. Ah, sure, she’d tell us it was nothing with a wave of her hand or she’d say “many hands make light work” or give the credit to someone else. But we know…it was her. And now she quietly and patiently goes through a home filled with a lifetime of memories and cherished objects, passing things on to the next generation or recycling and giving away what she can whenever possible.
So today, on this the Month’s Mind of Mama’s passing, we not only remember the woman we called Mother, Granny, Great-grandma, admired Mother-in-law…we stop to thank the person who practiced the most loving patience we ever witnessed. Dear Rosaleen, we are so very grateful. Thank you.
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