Patience is a virtue. I have been told that saying a million times and each time it feels like the first time I hear it. Why? Simply because this is a virtue that I have been working on all my life. I am not the most patient of homo sapiens, yet I keep repeating this lesson over and over again. Sometimes I feel like life still feels I have not yet mastered it.
As I write this blog, I am sitting in a lounge in Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport. I have about five hours to go before I board my connecting flight. I was reviewing my just concluded holiday in Kenya. It was a first holiday without my husband and children by my side, a first that I had to make an international flight on my own, a first that I was looking forward to while at the same time dreading what I was going to undergo for the following four weeks. A first of many activities that tested my patience, right from the booking hiccups, refunds, Covid-19 tests, and new Visa rules. To say the least this was a trip that I had to take on my own, to grow into a new patient and innovative person. ALONE.
It all started as I booked online for my trip. The transaction did not go through, and I had to wait for the reversal to take be effected by the airlines. 14 days of waiting gnawed into my anxious heart. This happened as I waited for my Canadian passport to be processed. Six months earlier, I had promised my mother, who was recovering from a devastating stroke, that I would visit her and throw her a birthday party which fell on Christmas Day. Little did I know what was in store for me as the months drew near. Finally I rebooked the flight for 30 November 2021. On arrival at the airport, I got my first shocker: I needed my Visa to Kenya (my home country) before boarding. Initially Visa was processed on arrival. This was true to me until the flight attendants told me that I would have to reschedule. That meant rescheduling my travel arrangements in Kenya and break my mother’s heart, only for a while, by telling her that I would have to delay my travel. Tears could not stop running as I felt the weight of disappointment in my heart.
So my trip was rescheduled to 3rd of December. While I felt sad, I took the time to patiently go through the requirements of my flight again, rebook for another PCR test, and reschedule the trip details back home. But that was just the beginning. As I took off for Nairobi, I had more tests awaiting, the largest of which was my mother, who has lived in the negative plane of life for so long that she does not know how to be positive anymore. She suffered stroke right in the middle of the first wave of lockdown. For the third time, she survived a stroke. While her body has refused to give up on her, she repeatedly tortures herself with negative thoughts, words and confessions. She sometimes does not seem to understand that her body listens to her thoughts and her words.
I was set on traveling home to help her regain the little positivity and optimism left in her, while I set up new lifestyle behaviour, and a new physiotherapy system to help regain use of her right side, which is still paralyzed. This was a huge commitment especially if you are working with someone who repeatedly reverts to her default negative mode, with a snap of a finger. As I take stock of the events I just went through, I did manage to set up a new physiotherapy system, got a new living in assistant, thanks to my younger sister, changed her diet, initiated a new spiritual journey and reconnected with my estranged mother after six years of silence.
It all sounds easy as I write this. I am grateful for the spiritual vivacity in me. God did work a huge share. I was only a tool of change for her. I surprised that despite her stubbornly pessimistic thoughts, she ready and willing to change. Sometimes. After a week’s therapy and diet change, her skin started to glow again, her spirits lifted, and her right-side limbs started to show life. But the flowing week was an uphill task as she started to revert to her default mode. She started to refuse walking, refused to eat the food I made, started making her death wishes. On two occasions I was tempted to throw in the towel and travel back to the cold north. I even contemplated moving out and moving to my in-law’s family, who lived a few minutes’ drive from my mum’s place. I was frustrated to say the least. But then I remembered that my mission was to win her over to the land of the living. I swallowed my pride, ignored her lamentations, her curses and pushed her to tread on. She hated me and loved me at the same time. We got onto each other’s nerves and we both got exhausted at times. For the first time in many months, I took her for outdoor trips, to visit her best friend, and also to visit my aunt who had just lost her husband. She enjoyed the outings, and the junk food treats I pampered her with. This helped heal her soul.
At this time I was expecting a little help from my sisters and brother. I was hoping that although they had a very long arduous year with mum, they would at least step in for a day or two. Well that was expecting to much, it seemed. I was left with mum and her assistant to wallow in this process alone. This broke my heart. However, in retrospect, I must have been expecting too much from them. They had previously left me alone with mum when she suffered her first stroke. Another lesson I had relearn: the more things changed, the more some people remained the same.
Fast forward to day 21 with mum. We had established a routine for her that worked better and she looked forward to her trips to the physio. Twice a week we left early to the physio and I also added my mother law into the program. She also needed some realignment of her right leg after road accident. She, too, needed some convincing in order to overcome fear of physio. I did not know that she had her fears too. After her first visit, listening patiently to her cries about the painful procedures she had to go through, I asked her how she viewed herself in 10 years. The answer led her to accepting the physiotherapy proposal. A trip to the Kenyan lake region reinforced the need for her to attend the treatment because she had a serious limping walk and the leg was swelling too much. As I worked on both premier ladies in my life, I could help but think about myself. In less than 20 years from now, I will be where they are. I asked myself questions about my health, what mattered most to me and how my mental health mattered. I resolved to focus more on the good in life, heal my own scars faster, pray often, and be patient with myself and those around me. I also realized that internal health is an inside job. I have to want to be healthy, I have to want internal peace, I have to be patient with my own growth process, and I have to love sincerely and deeply, to forgive easily and to overcome challenges with a smile. These lessons I learned and practiced in four short weeks.
“No one is coming to do magic in your life. You need to look inside yourself in order to heal.” I told mum as I bade her goodbye. As tears welled up in her eyes, I told her she has seven months to walk again. I was willing to pay for her healing physiotherapy exercises. She loved that idea.
Why seven months? You may ask. That is a promise I made to her, that my whole family would be visiting Kenya again. In every healing process, always remember to give the patient something to look forward to, something they love and would enjoy doing. This is also true when it comes to patience. Always look forward to the end result. Never give up and never be all agitated about the time it takes.
I am patiently optimistic with my mother’s healing process, and I know she will pull through. I know she is a very strong lady deep inside, and her body has refused to give up. She as hit the rock bottom and for her, the only way is up, healing. I also need to be patient and trust in the process. It will take time to get to where we all would love to see her, but we are optimistic.
What about you? Which virtue are you currently working on? How is it useful in your life and to those around you? What goals do you set in the coming year to improve on yourself? I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a message in the social media or below this blog post.
Patience is a virtue. Let's learn to use it in the new year. Happy New Year 2022!!