The Refined Power of Patience Through The Eyes of Elders


It’s been a minute since my last post, and Christmas is
almost upon us(for those who celebrate). High time for
a bit of real rap to share with you…

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that patience
is power refined. Even when it doesn’t look like it. Patience
is something we all have, but some have made it a gift to
themselves. And others…not so much. The “cool” thing
now is to dismiss exercising patience, to throw it to the side.
The thing is, as I’ve said before – look at who and where you
see that suggestion coming from. If it’s a source that would
gain from your impatience, from you being irrational, don’t
pay it any mind. If it’s from a source that could stand to exert
a little patience in their own lives or situations, work on your
own stuff.

For me, I had to re-learn the value of patience in dealing with
the fact of having both my parents enter their senior years.

It’s a hard thing to see your parents age. It doesn’t matter if
it is a fact of life. Your parents are the bridge from one world
to this one. Especially your mother. Now, for those who know
me more personally, they know that my mom gets called “the
most righteous woman I know.” This woman has done so much
in her years that I can only hope to accomplish a third of. And
as she gets older, I see and hear the frustration she encounters.
I hear her talk about her various aches and pains. The soreness
in her knees from surgeries. The recurring pain associated with
her bulging discs. I’ve heard the despair in her voice. It rips at
me. At times, she will ask me for my advice. Sometimes, that
will be more than once. It’s as if she doesn’t trust herself, or
wants to go on auto-pilot. I will listen and offer my opinion, but
then it becomes a back and forth. Which will leave me a bit
frustrated. Being that I am a bit demonstrative with my emotions
more, it shows. Once she asked me, “why are you losing patience
with me?” after I was trying to help her with something on her
computer. The question made me stop. It was a tone of wonder,
but of sadness. I uttered a quick apology, helped her and found
myself having to excuse myself because tears had come to my
eyes. From that point on, I have tried to be calm and monitor
my own mood and tone when I help her or try to answer a question.
Since then, things have been more smooth.

With my father, the struggle for patience comes because he is
both independent and stubborn. He’s the type that will press on,
even when he has chest pains. Which has happened a couple of
times. For him, he gets impatient if, for example, you offer a
rebuttal to a point he’s making . His sensitivity is different in that
he feels as if his opinion is unwarranted or worse, unwanted.
He lives by himself, and I’m certain(although he’ll never admit it)
that there is a loneliness there. So I make it a point when we do
talk, that I offer rebuttal but not in a manner that may make him
feel like it’s talking down to him. And given that our relationship
has seen some rough waters, it’s been a great achievement to have
that rapport with him.

In dealing with both of them this way, I gained more empathy with
a good amount more patience. I understood more about what they
must be feeling being elders. I thought about all their years and those
memories within them, the hopes, the fears. Not just for them, but
for me. There was an Italian commercial that one of my sisters
shared once, where a man was irritated by his father asking if it
was the same bird chirping. The man snaps at his father, who doesn’t
say anyhing. Instead, he goes to his study, and brings his son a
journal, open to a specific page. The son reads it aloud, and finds
that it is an account of how many times he asked his father a question.
He reads how his father dealt with it – by kissing him on the forehead
each time. In that way, he reminded himself of the love he had for
him and diffused that momentary burst of frustration. That commercial
really made me think about how our elders enter into another age that
makes us think that they’re like children, but they aren’t. I was raised
to have respect for my elders that is not wholly subservient, but contains
enough reverence for their knowledge. With that, comes empathy. And
a higher level of patience.

I know now that patience bolstered by the good intent and
heart in most situations, can be a teacher. I make time in my day
to just go calm, to bring myself to a place where I can mitigate
any stress carried over. There are times where mediation helps
towards bolstering my levels of patience. It can be a healer. It’s
not a cure-all. There are those times where it can’t be enough.
But these days, what I’ve found in my relationship with my
parents is that it isn’t patience that’s the  virtue – it’s the
active use of it, especially with myself that is.

Until the next time, thanks for reading…walk good.

anguish on the ride home.

another curiously breezy August night in New York

City. i’m on my way home from a wine and cheese fete’

with some friends out near Corona. i had just gotten

off the E train and managed to catch the last Q83

before they stop going up the hill every 25 minutes.

as i get on with my ears full of a Ghostface Killah

mashup, i notice this one woman with her head down

on a huge black plastic storage container. her two

boys sat next to her, staring off into space. i move

to get a seat in the back since this bus usually gets


the bus jerked slightly. the reason being that this

older woman in a red and white striped sundress that

would’ve gone over well in an MGM musical had darted

in front of the bus to try to get on. the driver hit

the gas and proceeded down Archer Avenue to the front

of the bus stop area. she ran as fast as she could

and managed to get on, gasping for air.

a few minutes later, i look up from my book and i see

that the other woman with the container and the kids

has her head up. and she’s sobbing uncontrollably.

the tears gathered like rainwater under her eyes. she

was dressed in a sweater and black nylon pants. she

stared ahead, her lips not moving but her the rest of

her face was a mask of anguish. that is real pain. the

kind of despair that you don’t give a rat’s ass if

anyone sees. the kind of anguish that makes your heart

hurt with each gust of air into your lungs. it dawned

on me…she must be without a place to live. it would

make sense with the two boys next to her and the large

container. she must be going to the women’s shelter

over by St.Pascal’s church.

at that moment, the woman in the striped dress tapped

her on the shoulder. from where i was, i saw something

that i’ve seen so many times before in these New York

streets that other folks don’t believe happens often

here. and sometimes, even i can forget it does. it was

compassion. as the mother cried, the lady in the striped

dress spoke with her. calmed her. hugged her and gave

her strength. these are the moments missed once you

plug into your iPod, or your phone or disappear into

the pages of a book or newspaper. i couldn’t help but

stare at them.

as the bus reached the stop on 202nd Street and Murdock

Avenue by the church, the mother got off, edging her

kids in front of her. i saw that she also has a giant

red piece of luggage. my heart sank again. she must’ve

had to make a mad dash. who knows what – or who – she

left behind. and the two boys had this look on their

faces. it was a numb look, one that gives off the idea

that nothing in the world really could move you anymore.

the lady in the striped dress helped her with the black

storage container. as the bus pulled off, i saw them all

make their way down the block towards St.Pascal’s and the

PAL shelter. and while it saddened me, i’m glad i was

able to see it. just so i can keep reminding myself not

to be oblivious to pain because i don’t feel it.

that image stuck with me all of last night. it’s only

now that i’m able to write about it without a heavy

sense of sadness. because today, this mother and her sons

have a new day to start over. they’ve got a shot. one

that other mothers and other kids in cities and towns

throughout this country…hell, the world…may not

have. someone said something in a lecture i heard years

ago at a video engineers’ conference: “you beat the odds

just by showing up.” and that’s what they’ve done.

another of life’s circles.

these past few days, i’ve been helping my mother recover from
internal surgery. she was given strict orders to rest up in bed,
and so i made the decision to be of as much help as i can be.
which meant doing a good deal of cooking when possible,
cleaning and heading up and down the stairs to get water and
snacks for her.

i went back to how she used to care for me when i was little.
i used to cry, ‘mommy’ and she’d be there so fast i used to
believe she had teleportation powers. and i never forgot those
days – you shouldn’t ever forget those days, in my honest
opinion – so much so that they’ve been coming back to me
clear as day since last Friday. i’ve lost some sleep, sure. i feel
my legs ache from going back and forth up the stairs(who needs
yoga?!)but i still feel real good. i’m glad that i’m able to be there
for her. she’s done so much for me, even at points where i might
not have deserved it. because she’s a giver. and she’s taught me
how to give with your all because it’s right and for no other reason.

case in point? this morning, she asked for eggs but kind of
recanted. ‘you’ve been doing too much and i know you haven’t
slept much,’ she said. i went down, got the paper from outside,
made some green tea with lemon, wheat toast and scrambled
eggs. when i brought it up to her, her eyes lit up. ‘thank you
Chris! you didn’t have to!’

because you took care of me Mom…of course i have to do the
same. it’s another one of life’s circles we have to obey on this
Earth if we want our existence to mean anything.