Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fresh Eyes

There is a nice lady who keeps forgetting things and people.  I think this condition is called “dementia.”  But she is not bothered by it, which is good. I am not bothered either.  She sees me freshly every time.  Each day that she sees me, she raises her arms up in the air and runs toward me, yelling “OH! There’s a doggie! Look, it’s a cute little puppy!” And each time, my Mom holds me up to her so she can pet my head, and then places me on her lap.  She and my Mom have exactly the same conversation every day, while I sit on the nice lady’s lap, graciously receiving her compliments and love:

Nice lady:  “What’s his name?!?” (pat, pat, pat)
Mom: “His name is Shamzi, or Shammy.”
Nice lady: “Shammy! That’s a great name! Is he a boy or a girl?”
Mom: “He’s a boy!”
Nice lady: “How old is he?”
Mom: “I think he’s about 2 or 3 years old.”
Nice lady: “Oh he is so handsome!  (pat, pat, pat)  I think he likes me!”
Mom: “Yes! I can tell that he likes you very much!”

I make myself comfortable on her lap, while the nice lady tells me and my Mom the same things each time: how she used to have a dog when she was younger and his name was Buddy; how she had 12 cats when she lived under the freeway and they kept her warm; and how she always feeds the pigeons half of any piece of bread she ever has because “little birds get hungry too.”  I enjoy her exuberance when she talks about all of us animals with such love.   I do like her very much.  I find that her spirit is gentle and loving, even if her brain is forgetful.    My Mom always smiles and nods affirmatively, as though it is the first time they are having this conversation.  But the experience between them (and me) is exactly the same, every time she sees me.   Word for word.    Pat for pat.  People feel sorry for her forgetfulness.   But Mom told me that she thinks this nice lady might actually be such a happy person because of her forgetfulness—she forgets to be bored.  She sees everything and everyone with fresh eyes and with enthusiasm.   And wouldn’t life be much more fun for us all, if we didn’t take things and people for granted -- if we actually stopped to look, to notice, and to experience each one so happily, as if every time were the first time.   This is what we dogs do, all the time.  But it’s not because we are forgetful.  We are just born with this kind of wisdom.  Ask any dog.