The Simplicity of Love
March 8, 2020

Liz on a busI’m writing this on a bus. It’s flying along the A38, rattling and roaring up the hills. The driver has a sense of impatient urgency as we hurtle home.

I’ve been visiting my parents in Exeter, giving mum a bit of a break from caring.
I sat with dad, whilst mum went into town. Dear old dad. He doesn’t know who I am, but he seems happy enough in my company telling me stories of his school days.

It’s rare that I’m with dad on his own. Usually I drive them both into town, or we go out for a coffee.

But today I decided to use public transport; I had no car. Whilst mum went out I stayed in with him.

Dad gravely told me that his parents had died (they’ve been dead for decades), he seemed quite sad as he told me. I asked if he thought there was a heaven, “Yes I think so,” he replied. I told him they’d all meet again in heaven, “I hope so,” he said.
Then I asked him what he thought love was.

He struggled to find the words, but he tried to explain how important it is to help people. In his world it seems that helping others and love are the same thing. He was so animated as he tried to explain.

He returned to the stories of his school days and I half listened to this well-worn groove.

The dad I once knew would have hated to have been like this, but that person no longer exists, I don’t know where that dad went.

The dad who’s with me now seems fairly settled with the way things are. He has no stories about his children (he can’t remember us) – he has no fears about the future (he has no concept of it) – he doesn’t care what people think (there are no ‘other’ people that he can recall).

What is it that makes someone’s personality? Is it just a collection of stories? As those stories fall away then the characteristics that gave someone their identity do they also fall away? Which is more dad – the dad I once knew of the dad I know now?

I look out of the mud spattered window, I can’t see where we are. As the bus continues racing onwards into the night I realise how little I understand about how life works.

But what I do know is that I’ll take what I can when it comes to connecting with dad. Making cups of tea, listening to stories, putting on a CD of hymns and joining him as he waves his hand like a conductor from the chair.

There are always glimmers of connection and maybe that’s what life is all about.

2 Comments

  1. Megan Whittingham

    i hear a brief echo of a note of wistfulness in this blog Liz, yet it is infused (synasthetically) with a gentle questioning, not sadness. And the whole passage carries a sentiment that is beautifully open to whatever comes. And I love the fact that you are writing it on a bus that is journeying in the dark muddy night. What a magic metaphor for moments that happen to us all- knowing the light will come, the mud will rinse off, a different journey continues – in a Pullmanesque parallel universe xxx

    Reply
  2. Peter Hirst

    It is fascinating to me what dementia can teach us about the human mind, Liz. As the form dissolves, we are left with pre-form with smatterings of the former. From my present perspective people with dementia are on a path returning home though with consciousness more or less intact that can give us glimpses into our innate nature.

    Reply

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About Inner Compass

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are trainers, coaches and speakers. They work with individuals and groups across the UK. They also help develop coaching cultures (founded on wellbeing) within schools and organisations.

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How can you uncover your in-built resilience and wellbeing? What's the best way to share a message of wellbeing with others? The Inner Compass can guide you.

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Our articles, podcasts and resources will help people like you find the language to share the Inner Compass (also known as the Inside-Out understanding) with others.

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We've been sharing the Inside-Out understanding around the world for many years. Find out about Inner Compass courses, events and coaching.

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