I approached her apologetically, Tina Su Cooper, my love of fifty years, wife of twenty-nine years. She has been unable to walk during the past eighteen of those years, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent the last nine. From her bed, Tina looked up at me lovingly and expectantly, as she has done so many times.
Tina is a patient patient, one who almost never complains or demands. She thanks us for everything we do. She is interested in her family, her staff, the world. She is, quietly, a heroine, a brave and good soldier in a battle against the limitations imposed by her multiple sclerosis. In return, we are eager never to disappoint her, if we can help it.
Our elder son, Ted, who lives three thousand miles away, had a birthday coming up. We like to send him a card and a check.
I told Tina, apologetically, “I bought this card ‘You are a blessing, son’ last week, but I did not get around to mailing it until this morning, and it will be a day or two late. I‘m sorry.”
She smiled and replied, “That’s OK. Thank you.”
I had let her down. She accepted it without rancor. She thanked me for what little I had done.
Every day, life has its successes and failures, its pleasant surprises and unpleasant disappointments. We are partly responsible for these and so are those around us. Blaming others usually sets off a vicious circle of counter-charges. Thanking others initiates a virtuous circle of mutual appreciation. We choose how we respond.
Tina has chosen to be a patient patient, and we who know her are inspired by her daily example.