Once a week I like to post three things that made me smile or laugh and have therefore been added to my HappyMap.
1. This guy is as good at DIY as I am.


2. There’s nothing more important than smiling.

It’s been proved that physically smiling for 20 seconds, 5 times a day, will make us feel better.

These sharks have the right idea.




3. The third one is entitled: UBUNTU

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An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe.
 
He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits.
 
When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats.
 
When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
 
‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”.

I love this because it complies with, “The Golden Rule”, which if everyone attempted to follow, the world would be a happier place.

 

It was a lovely day today so we decided to go to our local safari park.



Fred, Meagan and a meerkat
(the meerkat is the small furry thing in the background).


The first animal attraction you arrive at is the penguin cove.

We quickly noticed that the penguins seem to chase the shadows, underwater, created by our hands as we waved them over the water.


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So he could see, I sat Fred on the side of the wall. His feet were so close to the water a penguin actually jumped out of the water and tried to bite his shoe.

It was quite busy and a few people let out an audible gasp when this happened.

I then held my hand a little closer to the water to see if a penguin would attempt to go for it.

Fred started to fidget on the wall so I turned for a second to see what he was up to and as I turned back I saw this penguin breaking the surface of the water.

It was travelling at a lightning speed, beak wide open and heading directly for my hand.


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In slow motion, I started to move my hand away but the combination of speed and surprise put the penguin at a distinct advantage.

As its body cleared the water, completely, I saw the cold blooded killer determination in its eyes, as if it had just seen a defenceless fish ideal for the taking.

The scene speeded up and all of a sudden it’s beak was around my middle finger!

My heart raced and I held my breath. This wasn’t meant to happen.


I heard people around me gasp and some laugh out loud.

I thought, stay calm, its not as if it’s a shark, its a smallish sea bird, this is ok I’ll just shake it off.

I started to shake, expecting the penguin to fall off as easy as an insect, that had just landed on your arm, would.

It didn’t.

As I continued to shake, we stared in each others eyes and that cold steely conviction was still present.

It was now obvious to me that this bird wasn’t going to go back into the water without my middle finger.

By now, of the fifty or so people watching, at least half of them were finding this hilarious.

How a man losing a middle finger, to a feral animal in public, could be considered as amusing I’ll never know.


It must have been ten seconds now since the penguin had latched on and beyond shaking my hand I was running out of options, in which to get him off.

I don’t mind admitting it, I started to panic.

Maybe I could smash it against the wall.

Trouble is, I have an annual pass to the safari park, which I’d paid up front for. I’d not read the terms and conditions but I’m sure murdering one of their attractions may constitute grounds for cancelation.

My finger was starting to hurt.

It felt like a few rows of sharks teeth were digging deeper and deeper into my digit, making their way through the bone.

I was genuinely in pain and all I could hear was the laughter of fellow park visitors.


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What really stood out, was the raucous laugh of a lady not too far away from me. Judging by her guffaws this was obviously the funniest thing she’d ever seen in her life.

I had a vision of the bird’s razor like beak, slowly grinding it’s way through the bone of my finger until it disappeared under the water with it.

I had to do something quickly.

I could cope with my annual pass being cancelled, it was time to fight back.

I was about to fling the bird violently against the wall, when it released my finger and slipped back into the water as quickly as it had left it.

A few people around me started to clap. As if this whole scenario was part of a performance, laid on by the park, for the amusement of its guests.

I smiled politely, put my had behind my back and walked off as if nothing had happened.

It’s a lot worse than it looks, honestly.


With twenty yards between me and the penguin cove I subtly examined my finger. I was bleeding and hurting.

For some reason I smelled it.

It smelled of fish. I had a fishy finger. Then I realised, I’d had a tuna sandwich for lunch. Maybe this explains why the penguin was so fervent in it’s attempt to pull it off.

Well at least I’d provided some added entertainment for people present but I swear, I ever see that penguin again, I’ll give him more than my middle finger.

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Yesterday I took Fred, my three year old son, to the park.


Whilst there he befriended a little girl, Arabella (although he called her Bella Bella) who happend to be of a similar age.

At the moment Fred is obsessed with superhero’s, in particular, Ironman, Batman and Spiderman.

He refuses to wear any clothes unless it features one of the above characters on it.


I’ve no idea where this obsession has come from, he hasn’t even seen the films but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm one jot.

At one point he ran up the steps, to the first floor, of the little wooden castle in the playground shouting, “I’m Batman, I’m going to fly out the tastle!” (he can’t pronounce his c’s).


Arabella’s father then said, as a matter of fact, “Batman can’t fly”.

Fred said, “Yes he tan (can)”.

“No he can’t”, Arabella’s father challenged again.

What was wrong with this man?!

My three year old son was having fun, minding his own business, harming nobody, playing out his little fantasy being the caped crusader and this man was trying his best to crush his creative imagination.


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Fred looked at me confused and asked, “He tan (can) fly daddy tan’t (can’t) he?”

“Yes he can Fred”, I confirmed confidently.

“No he can’t”, this man continued.

What was it to do with him? Why doesn’t he just butt out!

“He tan (can) fly out of the tastle tan’t he daddy?”

“Well he’s half bat Fred and bats can fly, so I’d say yes he probably could”.

As I said this, even though I was looking at Fred, my head was slightly angled towards this man to make sure he’d heard it clearly.

There was no way he could refute this. Bats were, without doubt, supreme fliers.

“No he can’t. He only flies with the aid of technology”, the man persisted.

“Well that’s flying then isn’t it? An aeroplane only flies with the aid of technology but it flies”


YES!!! Take that!

I didn’t want an argument but you brought it to me and I buried you, you loser! Accept it and move on!

Fred ran further into the castle with a comforting smile on his face. As he disappeared the guy walked towards me.

Oh here we go.

This guy wants to have a go at me. He couldn’t handle my verbal victory, so he’s going to get all physical.

I don’t particularly want to get into fight about fictional superhero’s in the middle of a children play area but if he wants to then I’m ready for him.

He stopped about a yard away from me, leaned his head in close to mine and half whispered, almost apologetically, “I only said Batman couldn’t fly because I thought your son was going to jump off the castle”.


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Meagan said to me yesterday, “Have a shave as we’re registering the baby today”.

smile

I said, “Ok”.

It was only as I was halfway through shaving and staring at my foam filled face, in the mirror, did I think, “Why do I need to shave to register the name of our son?”


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At 3:23pm we rang the bell outside the registry office, in our local town.


The door opened and standing there, eyebrows rasied as a cue for us to explain ourselves, was a serious looking old school headmistress type lady, in her early seventies.


Taking her cue Meagan explained, “Hello we have an appointment to register our son”.


“Your appointment is for three twenty yes?”


“Yes”.


Surely she wasn’t going make an issue of us being 3 minutes late. It took us 10 minutes to find the entrance to the office, which was hidden inside a library.


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She nodded, to show us she knew we were late and even though its was only three minutes, we were late.


She instructed us to, “come on in”, with a tone that suggested she’d never been late for anything in her life.


We walked into the office and both took a seat in front of her supremely tidy desk, which had a green name plate sitting on it, with the golden letters spelling: Mavis P. Wilson.


Just after we’d sat down she said, “Take a seat please”. 


We shuffled on our bums uncomfortably. Was she underlining the fact that we shouldn’t have sat down without her permission or was I imagining it?


As we got into proceedings, Mavis with a stern look, asked, “Are you married?”


I knew this question was required but Mavis made it sound personal and for the first time in a long time, it felt as if Meagan and I were truly living in sin.


I wanted to say, “Yes in fact we’re very married and religious too actually. We pray four times a day, have a shower at least once a day and always brush our teeth too”.


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“No we’re not”, Meagan said.


Mavis looked at us for a few seconds, then lowered her head to tap the details into her computer.


Mavis glanced up at Meagan, “Are you the biological mother of this child?” as disinterested in our baby as she was in us.


“Yes I am”, Meagan declared as formally as the question was delivered.


Then, as if I didn’t exist, Mavis asked, “Do you want the biological father’s name to be on the birth certificate?”

HELLO I’M SITTING HERE!

“Yes”, Meagan responded.


She then turned to me and said, “Are you aware, that by putting you name in this birth certificate you are financially responsible for this child until he is 18”.


“Really? Oh in that case I’ll give it a miss then”, I joked and made a fake move to get up out of my chair.


Mavis didn’t laugh, she didn’t even attempt a smile.

In fact, she looked at me as if I had just spoken a foreign language, that would have been beneath her to learn.

I think Mavis is one of the most serious people I’ve ever met.

She moved her eyes towards her keyboard and tapped at it again.

Meagan said, “Has that ever happened before, seriously I mean?”


“Yes I’ve had dads get up and walk out without signing after I’ve reminded them of their financial obligation”.


What?!


How can any sane thinking human being be happy to conceive and give birth but choose to have no responsibility after that?

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Did they just fancy seeing their name printed and spelled correctly on an official looking document, other than on a warrant for their arrest?

The choice for the name of our boy, had only been arrived at, after a lot of long, hard, tedious searching. I’d spent several a late evening scanning list upon lists of boys names.

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We’d tried several alternatives to the one we now have but none seemed to suit him.


When we revealed our choice to family members, it received a reception that ranged from mild amusement to claims that it wasn’t a proper name.


Never the less, we decided to stick with it.


So when Mavis asked, “And what name do you intend to give your baby?”


I sensed it was a little hard for Meagan to say it out loud.


What would happen if Mavis, a registrar for, “twenty eight and a half years”, refused to register it on the grounds of it not being a, “proper name?”


Meagan paused, took a deep breath then said it, “Monty…”, no laughter, more importantly no objection from Mavis, so she carried on, “…Adam Waite”, not even a blink of the eye.


It actually looked like she was going to register it.


“Have you registered many Monty’s before?”, Megan asked.


“Not me personally”.


“Have you ever refused to register anyone because of their name?”, Meagan inquired.


“No, even though, I’ve had people register football teams as names but I have refused to the order of names given to a baby”.


“What do you mean?”


“The babies initials spelled something obscene”.


“Why would parents do this?”


“They didn’t realise”.


I then tried my best to think of names whose initials would make for obscene acronyms.


Sheila Helen Isobel Thomas

Peter Edward Norman Ian Smith

Are two that spring to mind, I’m sure you can do better.


Just as we were about to leave, Meagan asked, “Would you mind if you posed with Monty for a photo with the birth certificate?”


smile

 

Then all of a sudden the stern, cold, upright officious registrar who’d dealt with us for the last ten minutes melted away into a smiley warm looking grandmother.

“Ohhhhhhh of course I will!”.

We’d just found the one simple way to make a serious person smile. It’s amazing how a newborn baby can transform even the sternest of people into mush.

It was lovely to see Mavis smile, it made us both smile.

A smile is such a simple and enjoyable way to feel happier.

 

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As we were about to leave, I looked at her name plate again and she almost predicted what I was about to ask her.


“There’s another name I’ve not registered in all my time being here…”


“What’s that?”


“Mavis”, she said proudly.
 


There’s definitely only one Mavis and Monty.

 

 

Imagine this.

You own a house, have a career, a good social life and are family orientated then you meet the man of your dreams (or lady) but they happen to live on the other side of the world.

What would you do?


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This happened to a friend of mine.

Eve is what I can only refer to as social glue.

She’s the type of person who’s at the centre of all family and social get togethers. If she’s not organising them, people who are, call her to get involved.

So when she faced the dilemma of selling her home, ditching her career, leaving her friends and family to be with this man, in Australia, it was a very big deal. 

Should she go?

There were so many reasons to stay in the U.K. but only one reason to leave.


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After a lot of deep thought, Eve decided that it was too great an opportunity to miss.

She sold her home, handed in her notice and had the big leaving do.

One year later Eve was back in the U.K. for her fairytale wedding to her Prince charming from down under.


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Eight months after that she was living alone, in her marital home, crying herself to sleep most nights, after discovering her husbands affair with a work colleague.

The marriage (and the dream) imploded.

Today, Eve is still single but she’s loving life again with a new group of friends and has just published her first ebook.


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This is the very definition of positive thinking or positive action, turning a negative into a positive.

The book is about Eve’s emotional journey from the U.K. to Australia and its proves that even the most depressing life episode, can be turned to your advantage, if you have the right mindset.


I urge you to read it, its called, Every Single Cloud (a journey of passion, betrayal and triumph) and can be downloaded for $6 HERE.

By the way you have to set up an account with Smashwords to download it, which is a good thing, as they are one of the best ebook distributors on the planet.

So if you ever fancy publishing your first ebook this is a good place to start.

Just as I was going to bed last night the news started to break about the bombings at the Boston marathon.

I got into bed shaking my head, clueless as to why someone would want to do this.

Why is there such evil in the world?

As I got up this morning, I read a bit more about the story, on my phone, as I was getting ready to cycle to work and I’ve completely changed my mind on it.

This doesn’t highlight the bad in the world, quite the opposite, it’s highlights the good in the world.

This bomb killed people doing good.

These people were accomplishing goals, achieving their dreams and raising money for good causes.

28,000 people were running in this marathon and the majority of them were running for charity.

Doing good.

How many people were doing bad?


Mass charity events happen every second of everyday, all over the world and therefore legions of people are raising money for good causes all the time.

Millions of people are constantly fighting for the good out in the open, including the people who died in the Boston bombings.

They died fighting the good fight.

They were loved and will be missed, whereas the people who planted these bombs will slink back under the stones from which they came.

People only care about their identity for justice to be done.

The greatest achievment the cowards who planted the bombs have accomplished, is to generate more love for the people they killed.

These bombings won’t stop the good side fighting their war, in fact it will strengthen their effort.

This bombing is merely a common cold on the body of human kindness.

We will fight it, kill it and come back stronger, immune to that previous set back.

The harder the evil try, the harder the good will fight back and there’s more of us, a lot more.


“Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering.

With that feeling everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has the basic right to do this.
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama


I’m going to do something, I very rarely used to do.

I’m going to sit on the fence on a subject that’s set fire to radio talk shows, discussion forums and TV debate shows up and down the country: Thatcher.



These days I try my best not to argue for the sake of it because I’ve finally realised, it achieves no results, in fact, it invariably has the opposite effect of what you want to accomplish.

Who is more likely to agree with your point of view, somebody you agree with or somebody you argue with?


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Plus, if your goal in life is happiness, which mine is, then will arguing get me closer to that goal?

Somebody once said to me, “You’re very argumentative”, my reply was, “No I’m not”, therefore proving their point perfectly.

One of my best friends also once said to me, “You could start an argument in an empty house!”.

So to Thatcher, I’m not going to give my opinion because its only my opinion but to say she was divisive is a massive understatement.

Marmite wouldn’t dared sponsored her and their slogan is, “You either love it or hate it”.


On one side, there are her supporters, the Thatcherites, who think she was the best prime minister this country’s ever seen.

On the other side are the people who believe she ruined Britain and are now holding parties because she’s dead.

Is it possible that both sides could be right?

Could she have done some good and some bad?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the argument and in winning our point, that we lose sight of the reality.

I know because I’ve been involved in many shouting arguments, rubbishing the other persons point of view as complete bull, whilst being completely prepared to cut off my own arm to prove my point.

Then a few days later, when I’d cooled down, I would have grudgingly admitted to myself, “Maybe they did have a point there. Maybe Justin Bieber isn’t a musical genius”.

I understand the saying:


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But for a long time its real meaning has been clouded because it always reminded me of this gag:

Before I argue with a man, I always like to walk a mile in his shoes, then I’m not only a mile away but I have a new pair of shoes too.

Seeing the recent debates raging on Twitter and Facebook, about Thatcher, made me think. How can people living in the same country have such strong opposing feelings towards one person? 

Then it struck me.

People are not listening to each other, just trying to prove their point is correct and that the other person’s is wrong.

So it got me thinking.


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I would like to see a debate show, with a difference.

I would like to see the most pro Thatcher supporter, swap sides and try, their best, to win the debate for the anti-Thatcher supporters.

Then I’d like to see the most vocal Thatcher hater to also swap sides and try passionately to win the debate for the Thatcherites.

I think this would result in three outcomes.

1. It would give each side an insight into how the people with the opposing view sees the situation.

2. It would hopefully make each participant realise that it’s all opinion. Opinions are like shoes sizes. Nobody has a right or wrong size, just different ones.

I could argue all day that God exists with atheists. What’s the use in doing this? It would drive a wedge between us and wouldn’t make any of us any happier.

3.It would be a good TV show of which I’d own the format 😉


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After scouring the internet and looking at over 5000 boys names we finally settled on… Joshua.

Then Meagan noticed it was in every top ten list of boys names out there and therefore decided its too popular, so the search went on.


Our little fella (LF) is now 1 week old and nameless.

Before he was born I suggested the name, Monty. Meagan entertained it with a dismissive flick of the eyebrow.

Three days ago, at 1am, after looking through a list entitled, “10,000 Boys names”, I sent Meagan an email (she was in bed) with these suggestions:

Louie

Flynn
Herbie
Monty
Jasper
Casper
Fletcher
Ted
Barnaby
Rufus
Bertie


In the morning I got this reply:

Monty
Jasper

Are the only two I like from that list xxx

Meagan’s side of the family expressed the lack of enthusiasm for Jasper so I said, “To be honest, I prefer Monty, let’s go with Monty then”.

When we revealed this suggestion to my side of the family we were given a few opinions ranging from, “My dad called his dog that”, to, “It’s not a proper name”.

How can something not be a proper name?

All names are… are sounds, represented by letters strung together.

Every name has, at some point, been made up by someone.

They weren’t always names.

There was a time when, even the most popular of traditional names was frowned upon as being, odd or obscure.

These names have been adopted by more and more people over time and therefore become acceptable.

Just because a name is different or not a traditional name, it doesn’t not make it a name.

If, “Rhubarb Crumble”, had been adopted by a King several centuries ago then it would probably have become a traditional name.

It baffles me how people will accept tradition as validation, without questioning how ridiculous that tradition is.

I’m not an anti-royalist but the reason the Royal family exist in such luxury is because their ancestors were more successful at killing and aggressively claiming land than our ancestors. 

The world over, if you ask people why they love the Royal family and that word, “tradition” will pop up again and again.

Just because its traditional it doesn’t make it right.

This response to the name, Monty, upset Meagan. What my family didn’t understand is that we’d been calling our LF Monty for a day. So when they expressed their feelings it wasn’t merely an attack on a name but on our harmless little fella.

It annoyed me at the start but now it doesn’t because what I’ve come to realise, is this:

It’s only opinion.

There is no right or wrong… only other peoples opinions.

You can accept other peoples opinions as just that and move on or try to change their opinion. You’re always better off going with the former.

Trying to change someone else’s opinion is pointless. We can only change our own opinion.

And in this instance, whose opinion matters more?


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Welcome to the world Monty.

It’s been a big week for our family, in which our little family, has become one member bigger.

Meagan gave birth to our second son, on Monday, at the Royal Hampshire County hospital in Winchester.

power-of-one


So many things have gone through my mind, in the last seven days, as we brought a new little person into the world.

But the point that’s really stuck in my mind, is how one person can make such a difference.

By one person I don’t mean just one person.

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Its never fails to astound me how one person can grow another perfectly formed smaller person inside them.

How that small person can create so many positive feelings.

How a midwife managed to make us feel as if we were and will be the only couple ever to give birth (thank you Bryony).

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Don’t ever believe that you don’t have the power to change this world.

It happens every second of everyday.

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Never underestimate the power of one and by that I mean you.

One person can make a difference, in fact, if it doesn’t start with one person, it will never start at all.

 

 

My mum and dad came down, for the birth of our new baby, this week.

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They were great with Fred (our 3-year-old) taking him to the play centre, swimming and generally spoiling him.

Fred’s genuinely enjoyed spending time with them, which was nice, as he doesn’t get to see them as much as we’d like because they don’t live near us.

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It’s all the more appreciated when we add the fact that my parents have had a tough time of it lately.Five years ago, after a check up, it was revealed my dad had prostate cancer.

After an operation to remove his prostate and a course of radiotherapy we thought everything was ok.

A  year later he suffered a stroke, then another three months after that.

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Just before Christmas 2011, my mother was told she had an agressive form of breast cancer.

She underwent chemotherapy and a mastectomy. We’ve since been informed that she’s all clear.

Twelve months ago, during a routine scan, cancer was detected in my father’s lungs.

He’s undergone an intensive course of chemotherapy and has just finished a session of radiotherapy.

He’s been given a clean bill of health but the after affects of such hardcore treatments have had left their toll on my parents. Both have aged considerably in the last five years.

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My dad still has problems eating and is two stone lighter than his usual weight. He’s six foot and only weighs twelve stone. 

My mum eats very little and her short term memory has noticeably deteriorated. She’ll often ask the same question many times a day.

This week when we were still thinking of a name for our baby my mother suggested, “John”, about twenty times in three days.

Most of the time, I just say answer the repeated question as if I haven’t previously heard it but sometimes I can’t help saying something like, “Mam you’ve asked that 10 times, in the last half hour, the answer hasn’t changed”.

I hate myself for saying this.

It’s not her fault she forgets.

This memory loss could affect me one day and if it does I only hope my sons won’t react with the same lack of respect that I sometimes have.

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The reason I’m writing this blog is because I read an article today and it reminded me to be nicer to my parents, they brought me up with love and won’t be here forever. 

If we’re lucky, we will all be old one day…

 

“A Letter From A Mother To A Child” 

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“My dear child, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling child.”

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