I do apologize for my absence. I've been going crazy with cookies. My daughter is a fifth year Girl Scout and during the most recent cookie sale her goal was 250 boxes so that she'd qualify for one of the incentive prizes - a silver peace sign necklace with multi-colored rhinestones on it. She did manage to sell 250 boxes, but guess who had to organize all the orders, bag, and label them for delivery???
Have you ever looked at 52 boxes of Thin Mints, 51 boxes of Caramel Delights and have told yourself, "Wow, I guess these are the two most popular Girl Scout cookie varieties." ???? Well, unless you have a Girl Scout in your family, I doubt that you've ever done that. Getting them all out and looking at all those boxes of delectable cookies is quite a sight!
I have been taking my daughter to participate in the cookie booths her troop has arranged. I'm teaching her the importance of being a team player by participating so she can help her troop sell more cookies. We were selling them at a nearby McDonald's. I told her how important it is when you are part of a group to do your share of the work that makes that group special. This means participating in things that you may not consider "fun," like a cookie booth. I told my daughter it was all in her attitude. She had the choice to go into this as if the whole thing was an unpleasant chore she needed to get out of the way or she could go into it as a chance to spend time with her Girl Scout friends and learn how to deal with the public and make change. All the girls in the troop are 10 - 11 years old.
Luckily, my daughter made me proud by opting for the more positive attitude. She also helped the others to keep a positive attitude as well, and one of them needed LOTS of help in that department.
When things come up in our lives that we must do even though we don't want to, or very unpleasant things happen to us or our loved ones, the attitude with which we face the situation is everything. Attitude can make or break each one of us.
My father died last September from end-stage dementia brought on by Parkinson's Disease. He entered the nursing home system the previous October and I moved him from place to place trying to find the best facility for him, which I finally did last May. I went to visit him nearly everyday and on the weekend I brought my family along. I made sure he was being well-cared for and made it clear to the staff every time I went that if something dissatisfied me there was going to be trouble - and sometimes there was.
I am very thankful that Dad never forgot who any of us were. He'd even ask about his brothers and my cousins whom he hadn't seen in years. Since we all knew he was dying we were all keeping in touch with one another. His illness brought the entire family closer together. That was my dad. He was always a ray of sunshine touching every life in an incredibly positive manner. He was the type who never met a person he didn't instantly know. He had tons of friends. Everyone knew Bob and everyone loved him.
However, due to the dementia and severe depression caused by us losing my mom in January, 2008, he wasn't a joy to be around anymore. He would spend a lot of our time together crying and asking me why wouldn't he die? He would say, "all I want is to die."
The ray of sunshine I had known all my life as my beloved father was gone. In its place was left a mere shell of the man he once was holding on to the only thing that got him through each day - that when his time came he would get to see his wife of 48 years again.
Attitude is everything. My dad's illness taught me that, although I have always known a positive attitude will get you a lot further along than a negative one will.
I have one major regret about the time my dad spent in nursing homes. I allowed the general atmosphere and the many trapped and restless souls there to drag me down. I looked at each visit with dread, as something I must do in order to offer my dad what emotional support he was willing to accept. I failed to see all of those visits as what they truly were: precious time to spend with a loved one who was in the process of making their transition. I failed to see this was a tremendous blessing that many people never receive due to having loved ones wrenched from their lives due to accidents, sudden illnesses, and violence. Instead of looking at those visits as precious time well-spent I saw them as times I had to deal with a constant barrage of negativity from the staff, from my dad, and even from some spirits I ran across in those facilities.
If I had had the attitude of this being the last chances I'd have to spend with my dad, of making the best of it and not allowing his depression to get to me, I would have been a better support to him and I would have been better equipped emotionally to deal with the whole unfortunate situation.
When I look at my daughter I see a lot of my dad in her. The same ray of sunshine, the same "go get 'em" attitude. I look at her and say to myself, "I will do everything I can to always encourage that attitude in her so that when the time comes in her life when she has to face something really unpleasant hopefully she will be able to maintain a somewhat positive attitude."
In other words, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I know it sounds trite, but when you really think about it, it's very sound advice. Take it from one who knows.
I really wish I had made lemonade with my dad.