A year or so ago, my aunt gave me a message from her husband. She told me that Uncle Dan had asked her to deliver to me a one word message: recalibrate. She asked if I knew what he meant. Yes, I knew. Not just the meaning of the word, but what he was trying to tell me.
At the time we were busy doing chores around my house and although I heard what she said, I didn’t want to concentrate on the message. It was just another thing to put on my ever growing to do list.
Not an unusual word for a Silicon Valley computer guy like my uncle to use to so simply describe my life since my husband, John was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact I felt I was in a constant state of forced recalibration and I didn’t like it. So I tucked the advice away.
But that pesky word would pop up when I least expected it and I was to discover, when I most needed it.
This all became clear to me one day in our kitchen. John has the habit of leaving his chair out when getting up from the dining table. It is not because of his disease, he has always done it. And after almost a quarter of a century of marriage, it has become my habit to push the chair in.
But lately this little thing has begun to bug me. Really bug me. Every time I walk into the kitchen his chair is out. I asked him to please push his chair in, how much effort would it take? He looked at me and blinked, chair? He glanced around the kitchen and shrugged. He was standing at the counter no where near a chair. What was I talking about? I marched out of the room fuming. He continued making his lunch.
Later that afternoon as I carried clean laundry to the bedroom I passed through the kitchen and saw the chair out. Sighing I stood by it. My uncle’s word floated through my brain.
Okay, how was I going to view this and direct my thoughts in a different way? Touching the chair I prayed for a way to change how I felt. Standing there with my hand resting on the back, I thought about how this chair became positioned away from the table.
The simple answer brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. I would forevermore look at the chair pulled from the table with joy. It was because of John. It honored his presence in the kitchen; being well enough to feed himself, to be able to sit at our table and have a meal with me. John is changing in ways that we battle but can’t stop. It is my job to tune into those changes and try to find a way to make our time together easier for both of us.
Recalibrate. One day I will walk into this kitchen and yearn to see the chair pulled from the table.