The power of a smile.  My dad used to have mottos or sayings on everything he had for advertising.  One was “Boshell Enterprises: Doing common things uncommonly well”. Another was “Smile, it makes people wonder what you’ve been up to”.

Smiles are multilingual.  They cross barriers.  Smiling can overcome even the worst of attitudes.

My oldest (Weatherman here on my blog, bless his meteorological heart) could be in the Olympics of Pouting.  If there was an Olympic event for biggest, most heartfelt pout, he could be in the top 3, no lie.  And, unfortunately for me, he comes by that honestly, because I had pouting down to an art form at his age too, I was just more scared of my dad than Weatherman is of me.

So last week, our church held revival, and Weatherman (and the other 2) didn’t really want to be there.  And it wasn’t even a “boring” revival, it was a musical revival, what in the world was there not to like about that?  The group doing the revival had very little preaching and lots of singing, and that’s usually the boys thing.  But not this time, uh huh, no way, and I started really smiling at Weatherman, really mugging it up, and his dad, Hubs, got into it, and when my husband smiles, it lights up his whole face (I fell in love with that smile).  Poor Weatherman, me and his dad just grinning like idiots at him and he’s trying to hold the frown, hold it, oh, there’s a corner trembling, there’s another upturn, and finally…

He smiles back.  Very unwillingly, but he smiles.

Smiling is contagious.  I am a smiler, and I notice when I smile at people, they tend to smile back (because frowning is rude, right?).  And I got a beautiful smile this week.

I don’t visit my dad as much as I did when he first entered assisted living.  I never missed a week, and I made my boys go with me.  The place he is in now, though, is not as guest friendly, and the boys get very impatient, so I go see Dad about once every 2 weeks, and sometimes less, if life gets really busy.

And truth be told, those times when I visit and I get a look like, “I know you, I know you belong to me, but I just can’t recall.” Those are tough visits.  He’s trying so hard, but just can’t get it.  I am reminded of lyrics to a favorite song of mine:

“I seem to recognize your face,
Haunting, familiar yet, I can’t seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me…

Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away”
(the song is “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In a Small Town” by Pearl Jam)
That song has always been a favorite of mine, and now it resonates even more. That is what it is like, seeing my dad and him seeing me.  But there are times, when he sees me, like this last Sunday when I visited, and he sees me, and his face lights up and he says, “Well, there you are, Tina.”  Hearts and thoughts.
Here I am, Dad.  And he smiled so big that day.  And then he was gone.  When my mom and I tried to get him to follow simple instructions, such as, “in here, Bo, and right here, Bo” and “lift your leg”, he says, “okay” and just stands there, and we have to physically put him where we want him.  This disease has robbed him of even comprehending what we say, of following instructions.
Just nine months ago I wrote about him saying inappropriate things at the doctor’s appointment, but now his speech has become much less, and he only talks of his red shirts and his car.  He is having a hard time even knowing there is a candle to be lit, much less remember my name.
But that smile he gave me Sunday.  And the gift of knowing my name that day.  That I will treasure.  Hearts and thoughts they fade, but my memories won’t. And I will treasure them.  Smile at your loved ones, smile at strangers.  I hope the people who take care of my dad daily make the effort to smile at him.  Smile at your spouse, smile at your kids, smile at that person who makes you mad, and just see what happens.  I promise, it will at the very least make them wonder what you’ve been up to.



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