The Greatest Love of All

Photo by Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure

“Nicole is lucky to have you for a mother. You show her great love.”

These are words I frequently hear from those who know the lengths to which I go to find resources for her. I see this as my responsibility. I know it is a loving action, but I have the skills to do it and the only thing hard about it is finding the time to follow the leads and dealing with the disappointment of blind alleys and insufficient assistance and services.

Showing her love is something different in my book. Love is changed behavior and is, to my way of seeing, a powerful demonstration of love. It takes much more conscious effort. And it forces me to grow.

Nicole and I have both been showing our love by changing our behavior since she moved in with me a little over a year ago. After she reached adulthood, we tried living together before, and it didn’t work well. This time, we are both growing.

To ease the transition, I suggested we be intentional about giving each other a hug before going to bed at night. Expressing our love by hugging and expressing terms of endearment greatly reduced the tension in the air. It took about five months for us to begin to relax into a routine with each other that seems to be working for both of us.

Behavior I have changed:

  • I’m not as fussy about my home being neat and tidy.
  • I’ve stopped (except for a recent slip — I’m not perfect) screaming, yelling, and stomping when I’m frustrated or scared.
  • I take into consideration her preferences.
  • I watch TV programs she enjoys even though they are not my first choice and I wouldn’t normally give them the time of day.
  • I say “thank you” a lot more frequently.
  • I accept much more graciously what I cannot change about the way her disease affects her behavior.
  • When our needs clash, I engage her in problem solving to find a solution that works for both of us.

Behavior I’ve noticed that Nicole has changed:

  • She’s less messy around the house.
  • She’s forthright in her dislike of my frustrated/scared behavior.
  • She watches some TV programs I enjoy even though she finds them boring.
  • She initiates and takes responsibility for household chores without being reminded. (I really like it that she has taken responsibility to clean up the kitchen after I cook.)
  • She kids with me about my quirks.
  • She respects my need for silence and uses her headphones when I’m writing, meditating, or reflecting.

I know Nicole would rather live independently and I would prefer that, too. But that is not likely to be possible anytime soon. So, in the interim, we show our love through changed behavior. In my book, that’s the greatest love of all. And this is not what I set out to write today. Interesting.

18 comments

  • Cathy Herbenick

    I remember last year when Nicole first moved into your home. You both deserve congratulations and admiration on your remarkable progress.

  • prema

    Sweet sharing, Linda. Thank you for your courage to change and grow even when you really don’t like the situation.

    • Kathy

      Awww, sweet pic of you & Nichole!! I loved our visit yesterday & the opportunity to catch up!!❤❤

      • Hi Kathy,
        The picture was taken by Rick Guidotti, a fashion photographer with a special mission. You can find his work at his website called Positive Exposure. Loved catching up with you, too. What happened to your pool?
        Love ya,
        Linda

    • Thank you, Prema,
      I guess that’s the nature of life. We don’t always like what we get and then we have to choose what we’re going to do with it. I’m grateful to have the capacity to make a loving choice. It took hard work, but it is paying off. See you Sunday.
      Love,
      Linda

  • Carol Mills

    What a great post! Bless you both.

  • Linda, your raw honesty is so powerful and moving. And such a moving unfolding of a relationship. Love to you both! Mary Jo

    • I heard someone on NPR talking this week about how surprised he was to find how much people related to him when he shared his foibles and how he heard little when he shared his successes. I guess we all need to know that we aren’t alone when we are hurting. I am led to share honestly with what I do share. To be honest, I don’t share everything. A friend who served as a reader for my memoir was shocked at some of what she read. She didn’t know that part of the story. I find it easier to write about than to talk about some of my more painful moments.

      Thank you, Mary Jo, for your generous response. I’ll bet you know very well of what I speak/write … as a sister memoirist. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey writing it and to reading it when you launch it into the world.

      Love,
      Linda

  • lisa kolb

    Beautiful article Linda…so well said, as Mom and I / and Amy feel your exact feelings! I felt like I was reading about us!

    • Oh, Lisa,

      I heard from another of our DM family expressing your exact sentiments. We are all in this together and it is so great to have each other’s support. Loved reading about your family’s recent adventure. One of these days we will actually meet in person. I’m looking forward to it.

      Love,
      Linda

  • Pat Wourms

    Thank you for sharing. It helps everyone who reads it.

  • Cindi Remm

    Love this piece. Heart felt and a gentle reminder I can always learn how to love more deeply. Thanks

    • Thank you, Cindi,

      Your support through the years with various challenges in my life has been so cherished by me. You are a dear friend and I’m looking forward to spending some time with you this afternoon.

      Love,
      Linda

  • Thank you, Linda, for this honest and true-to-your-spirit blog piece. It’s really good advice for any relationship. Grateful hugs across the miles.

    • Jeanne,
      How sweet of you to comment. Your words mean a lot to me because they come from your generous spirit. In my past life, I was a relationship therapist. Good to follow your own advice.

      Big hugs back to you,
      Linda

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