Every now and then I stumble on a heart-warming example of something that I often preach: maintaining a good attitude. Last weekend it happened again and I want to share it with you in the hopes that it will inspire you as it did me.
My story is set at, of all places, a funeral for a 57-year-old woman who died of pancreatic cancer. And the subject of my story is, of all people, the mother of the woman that died. Her son is a very good friend of mine but I hadn’t seen her for over thirty years. (Oops, did I just date myself??)
After expressing my condolences she said, “Parents are not supposed to outlive their children.” I heartily agreed.
At the reception she and I had a nice visit. She is in her eighties now and walks with great difficulty even with the help of a cane. We talked for a while about her son and how his and my lives have evolved over the years, and then I said, “What about you? How are you feeling these days? Are you still living in the same place? Tell me everything!”
She said, “Well, as Ben Franklin once said, ‘I’m feeling okay but my home is getting a bit wobbly.’” She was feeling frail but found humor in it.
She went on, “My arthritis is giving me a lot of trouble so I have some ‘reading days.’ When it’s acting up, I take my meds and then spend the day with a good book.” She found something positive to say about her health problems; instead of saying that her arthritis was so bad she couldn’t go anywhere, she found a positive thing to say in that it gave her a good opportunity to read.
I have always said that a good attitude will reduce your stress and help you cope. She was having a hard time with a debilitating condition, yet choosing to find humor and positives in the situation helped her deal with it.
I am sorry that arthritis is hurting her, but thrilled that her attitude keeps it from bringing her down. I’ll remember that brief conversation for a very long time, hopefully long enough that it will inspire me when I’m feeling the way she does.
I hope it has the same effect on you.
This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike.