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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Gift of Perspective

Written by Kath, a mom without a blog

On a recent Friday, I had what should have been a really horrible day. It had all the makings of one except…it wasn’t. 

Life is surprising that way sometimes.

Here’s a little background. My 83 year-old dad recently fell and fractured his pelvis. He was hospitalized and I was charged with finding him a nursing home for rehabilitation. Granted, it wasn’t a nursing home for the rest of his life, but still, he needed to go to a nursing home. 

I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday that I broke his nose pitching softballs to him in the backyard? That he taught me how to fish? That I danced with him at my wedding? How can it be that I needed to find a nursing home for him??!

So, I spent a recent Friday visiting nursing homes, trying to pick the “best one” for my dad. Driving home late that evening, I had every right to brood about my painful day. But when I rolled down the window of my SUV and breathed in the sweet aroma of orange blossoms (yes, it is spring here in Arizona), I knew I had a decision to make. I could feel depressed about my day, or I could choose to be thankful for some really positive moments. I chose to be thankful. Here’s what occurred to me on that drive home:

1)  I was given a choice. The hospital handed me a list of no less than 40 nursing homes that I could choose for my dad. Of course, I couldn’t possibly visit them all in one day…but the decision would be mine, not somebody else’s. People may criticize this country of ours (it has its faults), but having a say in where your loved ones are cared for is a HUGE privilege. 

I’m thankful for choice.

2)  People were nice. At each and every facility I visited, I was greeted warmly with a smile. Someone stopped whatever they were doing and toured me around, answering my questions. People asked concerned questions about my dad. They acknowledged my 4-year-old daughter and chatted with her. When I was leaving, each person I met that day shook my hand and offered me their sincere best wishes that I find the “right” place for my dad. 

I’m thankful for kind people.

3)  I put a lot of miles on my SUV that day, driving all over the city. I’ve been complaining to my husband lately about only having one car and that it’s been hard juggling everyone’s activities with just one vehicle. Well on that Friday, I waited at a red light next to a man in a very old, worn car. His engine stalled at the light and he frantically tried to restart it before the light turned green. Not once that day did I worry for a moment that my vehicle would stall or malfunction. It carried my daughter and me all over the city comfortably and safely. 

I’m thankful for a vehicle.

4)  My 4 year-old daughter’s preschool was closed that day so she accompanied me on my search. Have you ever taken a child to a nursing home? There is something special about people at opposite ends of the age spectrum. They attract each other like magnets. My sweet daughter made such an impact on the elderly. Two special moments stood out for me. 

At one place, I saw an elderly man walking down the hall towards us. His gait was slow and stiff. When he saw my girl, he picked up his feeble pace a little, with a sudden purpose in his stride. As he approached, he introduced himself and asked my daughter her name. Then he reached his thin, frail hand out to her and she placed her pink, preschooler hand in his. Gingerly, with a slight tremor, he raised her hand to his thin lips and kissed it ever so softly. She smiled, and he walked off.

At another facility, we walked down a long corridor. Up ahead, I could see an old woman in a wheelchair. She stared at the ground, a vacant look on her face. She appeared lost in her thoughts, a million miles away in a place of confusion and loneliness. As we walked closer, her eyes caught the hem of my daughter’s dress. Carefully she lifted her chin. Her eyes slowly met my girl’s and they locked on to each other. Then slowly, the older woman’s eyes seemed to come alive—almost sparkle. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly in a tiny smile. She was no longer lost, no longer vacant. My daughter had brought her back if only for a moment. 

I am thankful for the gift of children to our world.

As a special reward for being so patient and well behaved, I treated my little one to a kid’s meal at Wendy’s for lunch (a rarity for us!). I remembered how nice it is to spend time with her, just the two of us. She opted to sit next to me instead of across the table so we could snuggle up and share ketchup. She chatted non-stop about her school, her friends, her life. 

Then she looked up at me with her saucer blue eyes and said, “Mom, this is the best day ever.”

Yes, honey. I do believe it was.


  1. oh kath... great post, although i only say that because i feel obligated. oh, now, just kidding...

    here it is: for me, i sometimes forget to make the choice. i think good thoughts should just kind of magically replace the negative ones, but it doesn't work that way, does it? lately, i have literally been stopping whatever it is i am doing, and have a conversation in my head (i won't bore you with the dialogue) in order to redirect my thought process. i also have been wearing a simple, wooden bead bracelet that is supposed to be my reminder to see the good in things, people, etc. it actually works (most of the time).

    good luck to your father. i am sure you will find the perfect place for him to heal. you're a good daughter. and a good mother, too.

  2. I am thankful for this post...

    That was beautiful.

  3. Wow - so incredible. That brought me to tears, a good cry, I promise.

    You're so right.

    Here's to a speedy recovery for your father. Em

  4. I'm crying. What a touching post.

    I went through this with my dad a few years back. It was so very hard. But at the same time, like you, I tried to see the good things. And I still do, although some days, it's very difficult.

    Here's hoping your dad heals quickly.

  5. Really great post. Good luck in your search.

  6. Kath, you really have an amazing way with words.

    Wonderful job and such a great reminder for me. Today, I'm going to make a CHOICE to focus on all the positives.

    Thank you.

  7. What a wonderful post. I had some tears too, but good ones. we all need reminders to look at the positive -thank you for this one.

    I hope your father is better soon...

  8. You touched my heart. Thank you. =]

  9. Great post... perspective can be everything! Loved it!

  10. what a GREAT perspective! glad you could make the choice to improve your day by improving your mind-set. i should have tried that was "one of those days". Great post!! love to read good, uplifting stuff.

  11. What an incredibly lovely post!
    Thank you.

  12. Aw Kathy that was sooooo very sweet!

    Thanks for sharing with us. *smile*

  13. What a wonderful and inspiring post. So many self-help books and methods (The secret) are based on the principle of being thankful. It's wonderful karma. :)

  14. Your positivity is truly inspiring. It is amazing how things life appears when you change your perspective. I'm so glad to hear everyone greeted you warmly and was helpful. I hope you find the right place for your father, and wishing him a speedy recovery.

  15. Oh Kath. What a beautiful day for a horrid reason. I hope your father makes a full recovery. I KNOW your daughter will always be a source of joy to those around here. Just like her mom.

  16. Kath my dear friend. Never doubt for a moment that you are a writer. Because you are. A writer tells stories that move people. And that is what you do. Right here on this little white space in the middle of the world. And people come from all around and they read your words. That is awesome. Thanks for being here.

    And about this post? I loved it. I love you. I love your dad and I love that saucer blue eyed girl of yours and all that she does for your heart. :-)


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