By Kevin Brown | Bio
My lovely wife has spent her day
today moving my mother-in-law from Calgary to Edmonton. This is the
fifth time my wife has moved her mother in the past five years. She is
not complaining: it remains just a fact. Her mother has downsized from
a home to an apartment, relocated from British Columbia, Canada to our
home in Edmonton, moved back to a seniors apartment, and then to her first
experience in an assisted living complex in Calgary last August. Now,
just nine months later, she is moving once again to an assisted living
complex, but back in Edmonton. Regardless of the reasons behind all
these moves, I am continually amazed at how flexible, adaptable,
and welcoming of change my 91-year-old mother-in-law is. Her
willingness to live in new surroundings, meet new people, make new
friends, change doctors, and give up some of her independence
to caregivers is a real testimony to her pioneering spirit.
I wonder what causes one person to greet change
with a positive attitude and a willingness to deal with a level of
uncertainty while another person resists change, has a negative
attitude and is unwilling to experience the challenges often associated
with change. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I can share what I have observed in the case of my
- I see that my mother-in-law
is comfortable in her own skin. She is authentic: what
you see, hear, and experience is exactly what she brings to each and
every moment. Whether there ever was a desire to impress, to put on an
act, to be live in a way that others find acceptable, I do not know. What I do know is that her authenticity immediately seems to attract
others to her and reduces any stress often associated with change.
- My wife’s mother seems to accept
situations just as they are. In fact, she chooses to accept ‘what is’
rather than spend time and energy on what could be. This ability to
freely choose seems to bring her peace with ‘what is’ with no lasting
regret or loss of joy. I can see how this has really enabled her to
adapt to the uncertainty that comes with change. In just the last five
years, she has chosen to downsize, to move, to rely increasingly on her
daughter for things she used to do herself, to make new acquaintances
and friends, and to adapt to new surroundings. Life does not happen to
her: she chooses each and every moment of her life.
- She, herself, is a caregiver of the first order (the subject of next week’s blog). I say a caregiver of
the first order because she is genuinely interested in those she
meets. She makes time for everyone and puts their needs before her
own. It is her love for others that causes her to care for them. This caring has its roots back in the ’50s when she and her husband
ran a school on an Indian reservation in British Columbia. Later they
opened a restaurant in the Fraser Valley and were well-known for their
hospitality, friendliness and quality of service. I think this ‘caregiver’ quality helps her appreciate all those who care for her,
support her, and befriend her.
- One of
the qualities I appreciate most in my wife’s mother is her sense of
humour. She loves life and enjoys a good laugh. Life, it seems, provides
with her with ample opportunities to see the humour that often
eludes others. Perhaps when you have lived long enough, you have
learned to appreciate the physical and emotional benefits of humour. Many leaders of business, government and community have credited a
sense of humour as being integral to their success.
organization that enrolls people in creating new possibilities for
their life. I am sure if they could meet my mother-in-law, their
conclusion would be that she is living a powerful life and loving the life she lives.
She is not alone. The evening news just highlighted a 101-year-old
Calgary woman who uses her computer to mail her grandchildren, to check
the pictures sent by friends and family, and to play solitaire. The
possibilities for living a powerful life at any age are endless!