picture above: Ashah, myself, and my dad – with my grandmother who has dementia.
From Jean Vanier…
A leader of one of our communities told me about his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. But the person this man wanted to talk to me about was not his mother but his father. He had been a strong, efficient, hard working man, more concerned with success than with people. But when his wife fell ill, he did not want to put her in hospital. He kept her at home and it was he who cared for her. It was he who helped her to eat and who brushed her teeth.
“And now,” the man told me, “my father is completely transformed. He has become a man of tenderness and kindness.” This does not mean that the father was no longer capable of being efficient. He had begun to develop other aspects of his being; his tenderness for a defenseless person, his ability to listen, understand and be in communion with people.
We all share a common humanity; we do not need to win in order to exist. We are not fully independent. Other people are not rivals but partners.
The purpose of life, then, is not to climb up the ladder, trampling on those we leave behind, but to help each person to discover his or her unique place in the body of the community, to recognize each person’s gifts but also their particular difficulties.