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Caution: Moments May Be Larger Than They Appear

For many of us, it’s hard to get excited about the little things. Somewhere on the road to adulthood, we lose that impulse.

Think about it: a child will successfully navigate pulling on a sock, tying a shoe, or stacking some blocks, and they react as if they just won the lottery. It is unbridled, pre-grown-up, unapologetic joy.

How does that slip away from us? Where does it go? Perhaps it has to do with the immense expectations put upon us, which gradually but inevitably mount as we get older. Expectations around chores, homework, grades, summer jobs, getting into college, dating the “right” people, choosing the “right” career path, and on and on. As the responsibilities increase in number and magnitude, those little things that brought us big bursts of happiness as kids start to seem like, well, nothing worth celebrating.

But the other day, I found myself filled with euphoria and cheering aloud as a result of a few small steps. Literally. They were the steps of my Dad, who has been essentially unable to walk unassisted since his recent hip surgery.

Post-surgery transfers and ambulation have required caregivers, hoyer lifts, and prayers. But then, last week, my brave Dad stood up, held his walker tight, and made his way across the room on his own.

Those few small steps later, I was on top of the world. It was the kind of unbridled, unapologetic joy that I remember feeling years ago – brought on by the now-seemingly small things that actually might not have been as small as we think.

In caring for our aging loved ones, there are an infinite number of “small things” that can bring us deep, unexpected bliss. Realizations. Insights. Accomplishments. Progress.

And if our loved one is living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, those priceless little gifts might come in the form of a shared glance, a knowing look, a tender touch, or a shared laugh or memory.

So celebrate the little triumphs. They are huge.

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