Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Staying Soft

Although Alzheimer’s robbed my father’s word bank, it never touched his gentleman gene. He often substituted simpler words than he would have used pre-Alzheimer’s. For example, he once said, “That’s how you know you can do things” to mean, “Being encouraged and coached boosts your confidence.” And once, when I told him something the nursing home failed to do for him angered me, he shared his secret: “I know, and I just have to … stay soft.” As his brain searched for the words “stay soft,” his expression was kind, not bitter. He didn’t have to find words to say, “I know they’re doing their best” or “I try to be patient.” I knew what staying soft meant.


I cannot think about Dad’s sweet disposition without crying. And today when I’m frustrated that desired concert tickets are sold out, upset with an inept tech support person, and overwhelmed by the whole early-equipment-obsolescence system that moves so much faster than I do—I am crying. But not from frustration or helplessness. I cry from relief of letting it all go in order to stay soft. And from remembrance of this perfectly worded, wise nugget from my father’s diminished vocabulary. Pure gold, Dad. Thanks.