When I taught literature with my junior high kids, we always looked at the author’s point of view. Not just his or her way of narrating (first person, third omniscient, or third particular,) but also what mood was behind the writing. Quite often, for me, such moods determine my own speech and attitudes. Yesterday was a prime example of shifting those moods.
When we visit my mom, I usually try to be cheery and upbeat. I think it’s a contagious mood that can get others to happier. Besides sitting in the Florida Room with my mother, we also bring another resident with us. Again, I try to be pleasant so the residents won’t be in a glum mood. As we were sitting and chatting yesterday, I realized I really didn’t have a great attitude. The weather was warm, but damp, and I was in a bit of a funk to match the climate. I didn’t feel like talking much, nor was in a mood to spread sunny cheeriness. Then a man pushed a gurney through the room – this is a usual sight as many residents need to travel outside for doctor and hospital visits. The man said to us that he’d require access to the doors where we were seated. I said we’d move, but was he aware that the gate at the end of the courtyard was locked. He said someone would open it. It was strange because everyone always uses the main entrance, not these side doors.
Then a nurse came and said he was a funeral director and that’s how they move the bodies out of the facility. That made me sit up and take note. But then we learned that the deceased was the father of my mother’s doctor – Dr. G. She’s the loveliest person you’d want to meet. She moves in a gliding, almost angelic way, and she always hugs my mom when she sees her. Her patience and bedside manner are impeccable, and she’s always available for our questions.
I moved myself, while my husband moved my mom and the other resident, to the other side of the room. I worked to keep their backs turned and engaged in conversation as the gurney was moved through the room. Dr. G followed them, crying softly. I felt so sad for her because her dad had been a rehab resident from time to time. She just lost her mother a year ago, and I’m sure she felt bereft. My attitude changed immediately.
When I was focused on me (my first person narrative,) I was consumed with sadness and I felt achy and sore. Once I lifted my head from my own visage, I was able to be a third person particular, and realize that another person was hurting more than I. I remembered my own inconsolable sadness when my dad died, and I knew Dr. G. was feeling the same. They say that when you walk in another’s shoes, you feel their emotions, and I truly did.
At once my self-pity departed, and I realized I needed to be in an emotionally uplifting position in order to keep others’ spirits up. So, even if I’m in a rotten mood, I’ll try to remember to leave it at the door. And I’ll concentrate on eliminating my navel watching in favor of bringing some cheer to those who need it.