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Chronicling Her Presence, Gratitude | KFP Articles
Chronicling Her Presence, Gratitude PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 20:13

The real blessing of spending time on a regular basis with a loved one with dementia is the opportunity to capture the person you once knew so well.  With my mother, I can trace the times when her personality shines through and encounter that very same person that raised me and loved me so much.  However, things have become more difficult lately as the disease has progressed and these moments seem to occur much less often.  Encountering my mother requires more affection, more time spent caring for her and more work to communicate with her. 

It has been during my time providing care giving that I have has some of my best encounters.  I have found her where I did not look for her, in the simple moments when she has expressed gratitude for my help.  Could there be an affection more human than gratitude? 

In his book Dependent Rational Animals, Alasdair MacIntyre emphasized the virtue of just generosity where we act towards others with an affectionate regard for them.  Never could this apply more than with persons suffering from dementia.    What the person with dementia has to teach us is the importance of the the virtues of acknowledged dependence such as the value of gratitude and courtesy.   

"To these virtues of giving must be added virtues of receiving: such virtues as those of knowing how to exhibit gratitude, without allowing that gratitude to be a burden, courtesy towards the graceless giver, and forbearance towards the inadequate giver.  The exercise of these latter virtues always involves a truthful acknowledgement of dependence."

As in the case of my mother, these virtues of acknowledged dependence are learned virtues that develop over time.  The analysis of MacIntyre brings to light a reality that the caring experience enriches.  Some of the most beautiful moments with my mother have occurred when I practiced just generosity with affectionate regard and she acknowledged that effort with gratitude.  It was the other day when I helped to her seat, told her with affection "I love you" and she said "Thank you."  A simple but most beautiful moment.  We did nto always have these moments.  It took the humbling experience of dementia, which made her dependent on us for her basic needs, to strengthen our relationship.

I'll leave you with this wonderful video to hammer home the point about gratitude. 


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