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  • Betty Girardeau


There are a remarkable number of differing definitions for the word "patience." While all of them are somewhat alike, I think I like the Wikipedia one the best: "Patience (or forbearance) is the ability to endure difficult circumstances...." Looking back on the last five and a half months the entire world has been asked to be patient. It is not surprising that patience now seems to becoming thin. I was actually secretly congratulating myself on being able to be patient and wait for things to get back to normal. I was coping pretty well with endless days of sameness, of not feeling comfortable about making plans or to go places and do things, to not be able to be with friends and family, in essence, to have a life again. In January of this year it had been three years since my husband died. The first two years were extremely unsettling. My world had been turned upside down and was crowded with uncertainties. Last year I was finally feeling like I had fully taken charge of my life and was looking forward to new and expanding life experiences. What especially gave me this feeling of confidence and security was the strong sense of community where I live. I had regular activities in which to engage with others. I have had some of the best friends ever who I knew were there to pick me up and dust me off whenever I needed it. Specifically, there was a sense that my life in general was in a good place. I knew better than to believe that this was going to last, because that isn't how life works. Nevertheless, up until recently, I was feeling pretty good about my level of patience in getting through what has been a hard time for everyone. I still had my best friends. Several weeks ago I learned that one of them was moving west to be closer to her only grandchild. Yesterday I learned that my neighbors, the first people I met when we bought our house in Tennessee, have put their house up for sale so that they, too, can move to be closer to family. At my age, none of this news should be surprising. But it is upsetting to know that relationships I have counted on and which have been important factors, especially in getting me through the last three years, are soon no longer going to exist. It's hard to be patient when you know you have lost or are losing some of the things that have provided a sense of security and comfort. So now I have to find new ways to be patient with myself in difficult times. I should take solace in watching a spider spin its web, knowing full well that it will have to repair or even weave a new one in order to carry on. That spider knows all about patience.

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