Brody: Lessons in mustering patience

Patience means “manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, not hasty or impetuous.”

I would not say my strong suit is forbearance. Admittedly, I am quick to act, poor at waiting and, under strain, all my feelings pour out.

I am a very poor example of patience.

Oh, if I’m talking with or helping someone else, I’m always patient. It’s myself I’m not patient with.

When I do something, I demand of myself I do it right the first time.

Waiting for results is really against my nature.

How about waiting for an important phone call or visit? It drives me nuts.

I’ve been ill this past five weeks with double pneumonia. It seemed I’d never feel better, get my strength back or stop coughing the deepest cough I’ve ever had.

One of my caregivers who helped me through kept using that word: patience.

“It’s going to take time, rest, work, Jean. You have to be patient.”

So I looked inside, and there was very little patience for me to use. I wanted to be well and strong right now.

Guess what? This illness was a good teacher.

I am learning to be more patient with my progress.

When I went from one half lap walking five weeks ago to 16 laps this morning, I realized I’ve been quite patient with myself. Hallelujah.

While sitting in front of an open window I asked myself, “What are the best examples I know of patience?”

While at Mayo Clinic one time, Gene and I were walking down a long hallway to visit my cardiologist.

About half way down, I noticed an elderly couple who had stopped walking. She was in a wheelchair, he in a chair.

The lady was sobbing out loud and he was devoted to finding out what was so wrong all of the sudden.

Then I overheard her cry out, “Oh, we have to go home. My hair is a terrible mess and I can’t let the doctor see me like this.”

Did the husband laugh? Did he say, “We’ll be late if we go back?” Or, “Your hair looks just fine.” Even, “Doctors don’t care how we look.”

Oh no. That precious elderly man put his face close to hers and, with his fingers he began wiping her tears away. Then he stroked her thinning white hair back from her face with his hand. He sort of straightened her blouse and he fussed over her as he kissed her pale face.

Not one word did the man say. No word was necessary.

As he got up and started pushing her again, he did say, “You, my love, are beautiful.”


I want to jump out of the box now to give you another perfect example of patience.

Yesterday, my friend Cheryl, brought her little granddaughter to visit and help me. She does this often and the same thing happens every time.

This little girl goes right to the round cat bed where I keep about a dozen cat toys. She dumped them all out and coaxed P, my cat, to get into the box, (that even was unusual).

Cheryl and I got to talking and we were paying no attention to them. What happened next I’ll never forget.

Everybody knows cats are either sound asleep or playing and running around. They are never known for their patience with each other or people.

But there, for 45 full minutes, P sat in that toy box while a little girl decorated every inch of his shining black body and head.

Not once did he try to get out or even move. He seemed to understand he must be perfectly still. Never had I ever seen any cat allow such goings on.

She used all of the feathery and fuzzy cat toys for the decorations, and when she used them all, she took them all off him and started all over again.

He watched every move she made and I honestly believe he understood about patience.

Now I want to go and visit two new residents. When I first started doing this, I mainly welcomed them and then explained the offered activities and times for meals and so forth.

Now, I know how to really welcome them because I remember so well how upset and sad I was to start my new life in assisted living.

All I truly wanted and needed was for someone who understood to listen to me and let me cry.

Listening takes patience. I do not chime in with my feelings but rather I might hold her hand or nod my head. Mainly, I listen with my heart.

The elderly man and the 10-year-old tuxedo cat both gave their time and their patience to make someone happy. What precious examples for the rest of us.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.