05 December 2013


In my last counseling session, my counselor told me that I was an impatient person. I was shocked. I consider myself incredibly patient. In fact, I specifically remember a point in my childhood when my Attention Deficit Hyperactive little brother was driving me to the point of insanity. I was 12; he was 10. We were staying with a woman from our church while our dad was working.

When I had reached the freakout point because he was bothering me so much, the woman came down to my level and asked what God was trying to teach me by giving me my brother. Without thinking, I said, “patience.” Where did that come from?

From that moment, I realized that I needed to learn patience and, as much as I wanted to at the time, I needed to not respond to my brother’s shenanigans because all he wanted was a reaction. I learned over time that if I didn’t react, he would not get what he wanted. Now, sometimes that only made him try harder but I at least resisted longer.

Living with my brother taught me to be patient with other people. When I lived in Singapore, I instructed people with physical disabilities and brain deficiencies, including ADHD, and knew that my patience made me a great worker. Nicola just last week spoke of my patience, so why did my counselor think I was impatient?

“My friends say I am the most patient person they know!” I retorted.

“Let me explain,” she said, and then she spoke of my aggression toward accomplishing goals. She addressed my desire to get Gran established, making lists and raptly crossing off completed items. She talked about how I think it is easier and quicker to do everything myself, unintentionally alienating myself from the rest of my family members who could actually be helping, I am just convinced that they cannot.

“So I am patient when it comes to people but impatient when it comes to tasks. I get it.” Why am I like that?

I was like that when I was working. I typically preferred to pile a ton of work on myself because I knew it would get done eventually, which only backfired because then my task list was so long that I worked more hours than necessary, burned myself out and only delegated when I was absolutely forced to do so – and I still left some projects undone because I in my mind always had 12 other things that were more important. If I couldn’t complete tasks, I absolutely felt like a failure.


My homework? Leave something undone. She told me about people who cannot sleep knowing there are dirty dishes in the sink, clean dishes in the dishwasher that need to be put away or things in the living room that need to be straightened. While I may know a person like that, I am not that person.

But I could tell her what I still had left to do in order to get Gran’s stuff situated: I needed to put together her bedding, which was delayed and scheduled to arrive via FedEx that day, I needed to hang curtains on the rods that I had installed earlier that morning, I needed to get another change of address form because the one she had signed got lost in the Monday evening hospital shuffle. Then there were the non-pressing things like converting her billing address on all of her accounts.

When all of that was situated, then I could think about going through her house and all of the items in it, sorting things, labeling things, giving things to people she desired. I realized as I was explaining that I might always have things to do to care for Gran and, again in my mind, I was the only one who could be doing these things, mostly because I was the only one without a job. (Did you catch my justification there? I’m good at that, too.)

“When will you be done?” she asked.

“I don’t know…” I realized. “In my mind, my husband is going to leave in January and go back to Papua New Guinea while I stay here and sort through Gran’s house. She has a lot of stuff so that will probably take a month or two.”

“When will you see your husband?”

“I don’t know. I guess when enough time has passed and we think it’s necessary, then I will hop on a plane, see him for a bit and then come back at some point and finish.”

“What does your husband think about this?”

“I haven’t actually told him….This is all in my head….If I did tell him, he would think that I am crazy. He would tell me to not worry about it, that I have done enough while I am here and that I can leave the house to the other people who actually live here.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“It won’t get done.” This is what’s in my head.

On Friday, after my appointment, I joined Anna Marie, Mom, Grandma Smith and Granny for our repeat Thanksgiving lunch. We had a nice meal. And then, out the window, I saw the FedEx truck and I excused myself from the table so that I could meet the FedEx man. Priorities?? Anyone??

I didn’t actually see him but I did see the package with Gran’s name on it and I took it to her room. I did go back to the library to join my friends and family but at my first opportunity, I summoned my mother to help me assemble the bedding.

I was watching the clock because I knew that I soon had to leave in order to pick up Paul and his dad for yet another Thanksgiving dinner. I felt the pressure to get things done in my limited time frame.

Once the bedding was set, I had to go. I gave my hugs, got my kisses and then left. Later I received a call from my mom. “I thought you were going to hang the curtains. Where are the curtains?”

“I didn’t do them,” I proudly stated. “In my session today I was told to leave one thing undone so I did the bed but I left the curtains. You can find them and hang them or I can take care of them tomorrow.”

That felt really good. I was smiling as I pushed the responsibility to someone else.

That night I had one of the most enjoyable Thanksgiving dinners I had ever had. Alongside Paul’s dad, his sister, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend, I savored a delectable meal and delightful conversation. We laughed hard and Paul’s sister may have once or twice apologized to the other diners, excusing us for our volume level. It was a highly enjoyable evening and an evening when my grandmother’s wellbeing, for the first time in nearly three weeks, was not at the forefront of my mind.

To all of you who enjoyed my favorite holiday, I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving, no matter how many Thanksgivings you had (I had three this year!). 

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