As a caregiver, it is a daily challenge to remind yourself to be present.  Whoever told us to, “Stop and smell the roses” was on to something! There is great power in the act of being present to the moment you’re in. We can look to the best teachers on being present- little kids.

Kids approach each day/moment fresh, as it comes. They fight to take a nap because they don’t want to miss anything. Grownups long to take a nap. Kids learn to walk- by falling forward and catching themselves before they fall…. They are willing to try and try again just being present to what’s happening and not making up a bunch of stories, reasons, or excuses for what’s going on.

I recently saw a lovely clip on the CBS Sunday Morning show. 91-year-old Gene McGee lives in Louisiana across the street from a daycare. He suffers from advanced dementia to such a degree that he doesn’t even recognize his own face in the mirror. Every day the daycare kids come outside to play and when Gene hears their joyful, playful sounds he runs to the window with excitement. The daycare teacher, Megan said, “Every day I cross the street and we meet again.” The kids know him as “Mr. Gene” and they have no problem introducing themselves to him every day and then he pulls out his harmonica and plays a tune while the kids dance. Sometimes Gene dances with them too. The joy on Gene’s face when he is with the kids defies the description, but to me, it looked like bliss.

I thought about what Gene might have been like had he the use of all his mental faculties- would he have seen those kids as a source of joy or would he be the guy who says, “Get off my lawn!” “Keep it down!” Instead, Gene wakes up every day and is present to the children and he is filled with joy.

As caregivers, our minds are so busy planning for the future that we don’t see what’s right in front of us. So, I invite you to practice being present especially around your loved ones, take the time to just BE with that person. Take it in, hear what they have to say- without guilt or judgment. Stop and smell the roses with them and enjoy the sweetness of life!