Recently, I joined a line dancing exercise class. I’ve pretty much caught on to the electric slide, but have been having a little more trouble with the suds-in-the-bucket dance. We’ve practiced the dance a few times in a straight line, but last Friday we danced across from a partner.
“Look at the person beside you, and not the one opposite you,” our instructor, Ruth, cautioned us.
I kept getting step-step and step-slide mixed up. “Just keep moving,” Ruth said. Soon I discovered that even when I missed a step (or two, or three), it wasn’t too bad as long as I kept moving. Eventually, I was where I was supposed to be—when I was supposed to be there. Sweet success, in a manner of speaking.
So far, I haven’t found an area of life where I can’t make a mistake. Sometimes they are doozies.
I’ve always considered myself to be lucky I wasn’t a brain surgeon. At least none of my errors resulted in someone dying.
Since I’ve retired, most of my mistakes haven’t been in the public eye. I made several missteps in the last week—locked myself out of my car with my purse, cell phone, and keys inside it, drove off and forgot to shut the garage door, let the dog wrap his leash around the cat’s neck…you get the drift? Mistakes. We all make them.
Too often, Alzheimer’s caregivers believe they shouldn’t make mistakes, but caregiving involves unchartered waters. Whether a professional or a family caregiver, we need to remember every person is different and every day is a new day. Just because something worked yesterday does not mean it will work today.
Every one of us makes mistakes, but a person with dementia is ultimately the most forgiving person we will ever encounter. When I lost patience with Jim or didn’t make the best decisions, I would remember what I’d done, or failed to do, much longer than he ever did. It seemed I was one of those people who had to learn everything the hard way. Trial and error was my favorite learning tool.
It would have been easier to give up than it was to keep on keeping on, as I liked to think of it. If we let our mistakes paralyze us, we miss out on so much. As in dance, when we miss a step in life, we just need to keep moving.
Copyright © February 2016 by L.S. Fisher