Our meeting was brief, a few hours of one day. One thing immediately stood out for me, and that was that when we were introduced, without hesitation, this woman reached out and hugged me-- and it was the type of hug where you knew she meant it. (Remember, it hadn't been that long ago that I was coming off MIL#4, you know, the one from hell.) This threw me for a surprised and delightful loop.
Brief background ~ supposedly this woman was suffering from a combination of age-related dementia as well as some brain damage that occurred years before when she lost consciousness from a severe asthma attack. I had been told (again and again) that it would be impossible to carry on a conversation with this woman and that she was pretty much unaware of important daily details, or at least not able to keep them straight.
Quite frankly, I didn't find this to be totally true.
She seemed to know exactly where she was and what was going on. She was also savvy enough to listen in on conversation, and I could tell that she wasn't only listening in, she was absorbing and comprehending. This made me question who was smarter-- this woman, or her caretakers (family members). I suspect that there's much more to this story that I will never know.
So, in one day, in just a few brief hours, what did I learn from this woman?
1) Sometimes it pays not to act as smart as you really are. Think about it. Who is going to have the advantage here?
2) When you can't do anything about the situation that you are in (quite literally), you have to find ways to be happy, things you can still do, things you can still enjoy, positive things you can still focus on.
3) You can't control the actions of others, whether this is poor choices and negative behavior, or sheer lack of intelligence, or personality quirks. Learn to ignore and otherwise overlook it, because if you dwell on it, you will just add to the negativity of it all.
4) When life throws you a curve ball, shrug it off.
Actually, I learned much more from MIL#5 than I realized.