Last week I spoke with the founder of Influence Expansion — Lena West — who asked me to define my biggest fear. I told her that I was worried about how I would serve my family and my mother’s needs if my business was too successful. Would a successful business take me away from the things that were most important to me? Lena told me that was a fear she struggled with until her mentor told her that “success only amplifies your values.” She shared how that held true in her life and gave me renewed vigor that I’m on a true and sustainable path.
I’m confounded by the fact that success can amplify your values while dementia strips them away. Half my struggle in helping my Mom is recognizing that behavior she exhibits is not something I should let define her. She looks like my Mom, talks like my Mom, but often says things that the woman who raised me would never have said.
I posted the poem for those who are caring for someone with dementia which is a stark reminder of the situation we are facing. As the reports from Assisted Living put it, my Mom can be “verbally abusive.” As her children, we struggle to differentiate sometimes between the stern mother who raised us while our Dad was off serving our country and the woman who has a sharp tongue that we may encounter on our visits. I rely on my go-to tactics if I arrive to find my Mom in a harsh mood.
Back in March of this year I wrote about the gracious woman who raised me resurfacing. When my Dad turned 80, we had a party with the cohorts at the retirement community. My Mom illustrated to me the gracious woman who raised me and helped me survive more than a dozen moves. I’m still in awe of that woman. I remind myself daily to remember that woman, but show love and compassion for the woman I visit and speak with — even if she is no longer able to display what should be her defining characteristics.
My parents taught me great values. I was so encouraged by Lena West — I don’t need to worry — my values won’t leave me when my business rapidly scales. In fact, Lena went on to share, I will be able to contribute to and develop upon my values as success arrives. Inspired.