Tag Archives: compliments

The Heretofore Underappreciated Value of a Complete Sentence

I had considered being a doctor as a child, but never a nurse. I just wanted to come into the room with all the answers and knowledge. I was never interested in giving shots or sponge baths. But somewhere along the way I fell in love with words and decided to explore writing and communication.

So when my mother-in-law, Edrine, broke her ankle and I was the only relative in near proximity and with a more flexible schedule, I ended up paying a visit to Georgia to assist her a little as well as my father-in-law, Klaus, (both are in their 70’s) in their primary caregiver duties to Edrine’s aunt.

Aunt Luella is 101! That’s quite an accomplishment. But age has taken its toll on her and she struggles with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some days when you walk into her private wing at the end of my in-laws’ home, you never know what to expect. She’s latched on to a few words that are repeated over and over again along with a sprinkling of intelligible words. You have to understand that sometimes a gibberish word is standing in place of the other word that her mind can no longer get her mouth to say.

It took a couple of days for Aunt Luella to get used to me in the room assisting with care instead of my mother-in-law. I tried my best to follow instructions and keep to the exact same routine so as not to aggravate her. She spoke mostly to Klaus, but sometimes she would look at me and say a string of gibberish.

One day, as I cleared away her morning meal and brought her a nutritional supplement, Aunt Luella suddenly looked up at me and said, “I really like that shirt.” I was stunned and overwhelmed. I finally smiled and thanked her for her kind words. To hear that 101-year-old woman speak in a complete sentence was uncommon, but especially to someone new she was still getting used to. That simple sentence, a compliment about what I was wearing, is something I will treasure forever.

So here I am, full circle, realizing that I never wanted to be the one to do the sometimes nasty jobs of personal care on someone who couldn’t do it for themselves, yet that’s exactly what I was doing for Aunt Luella. Was it fun? No! I got peed on once and in one of her dementia aggravated moments, she thrashed and tried to get her diaper off – leaving quite the mess for us to clean up. But having that one interaction with her made it all worthwhile!

When someone speaks to you, take the time to listen. It may not be evident on the outside just how much it is taking them to speak in a complete sentence to you. Maybe it’s a child that is afraid to admit that they broke something. Maybe it’s a relative that has been distant for some years and is struggling to say that they want to be involved in the family again. Take the time to appreciate the value of a complete sentence.

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The 20 To 1 Grass Roots Revolution

One of the many things I learned during my days in radio is that you will get twenty complaints before you get a single compliment. That’s not a reflection on your work per se, as it is a reflection on society. What it is saying is that people are twenty times more likely to call in with a complaint than they are with a compliment.

Now let’s look at it from the practical side. If what we want the most to encourage us are compliments, but we are 20 times more likely to get complaints instead. As Mark Gungor would say, you have yourself a math problem.

So I’ve decided to be intentional about making a difference. Yesterday I had lunch with my mom and I saw something in the menu that looked great, but I would need to change one thing. Eating out with Crohn’s Disease isn’t always easy. I asked the waitress if it could be done an she said yes. Later on the manager of the restaurant was making his rounds of speaking to the lunch guests. He came to our table and asked how everything was. We could have easily just said a non committal fine and let him go on by, but I chose to take part in the 20 to 1 Grass Roots Revolution. I told the manager about asking for the change on the menu item and that it was done for me and it was delicious and I really appreciated it. It cost me nothing to give that honest compliment.

We all know what it is like to need a bit of encouragement now and then. And with the 20 to 1 odds, we aren’t likely to get it. So let’s start our own odds. Let’s be intentional about giving honest, sincere compliments and words of encouragement! The 20 to 1 Grass Roots Revolution is this: knowing the odds of how people are more likely to give a complaint than a compliment, we purpose to be intentional about giving honest and sincere compliments and words of encouragement. Let the revolution begin!

 

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