"Do you want my roll?" she asked her daughter for the fourth time.
"No, Mom. I ate my roll and I don't want or need another. Oh look, it's starting to rain outside."
The diversionary comment worked only briefly. A glance to the window, a remark about the wind, a few moments of silence, and the meal resumed.
"Would you like this roll?"
Exasperated, the daughter said sternly, "Look, Mom, I appreciate your offer but, as I have explained repeatedly, I ate my roll and I don't want another one and you don't need to keep asking."
The mother looked blankly at the daughter she loved, then lowered her head, wounded and silent.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Mom. I just..."
A tear welled up in the daughter's eye. Angry about her behavior, she tried to internally rationalize. She thought, "If only Mom was like she used to be... If I could just help her remember..."
She knew such thoughts were excuses for her inexcusable reactions to her mother's dementia. She loved her mom so much. She moved her from a state away to this retirement apartment home where meals and housekeeping allowed her mom to keep some independence. All the amenities and a beautiful dining room provide a relaxing place to visit and dine, but the daughter ruined it with her impatience and refusal to accept reality.
A gentle hand on the daughter's shoulder startled her in her shame. She looked up to see the face of another woman whose mother lived at Bay Meadows. Her eyes were kind as she motioned to be followed. When the two daughters stood face to face a few feet from the dining area, the wiser one whispered, "Seventy times seven."
"Forgiveness?" asked the ashamed daughter.
"But my mother hasn't done anything wrong. I don't need to forgive her. I just need to quit correcting her. If anything, I am the one who is guilty here."
Suddenly the reference to Christ's words became crystal clear. As many times as her mother repeated things in their times together, that's how many times the daughter had sinned with stinging replies.
"I see what you mean. Thank you. I will try to remember."
"I know it's hard, but I have learned that love is most important. It's what my mother has always given me, and love is the most important thing I can give her now."
"The greatest gift is love. Show her love, seventy times seven times."
With new understanding, the daughter returned to her mother's table.
"I'm back, Mom. I love you."
"And I love you! Would you like my roll?"
"Thank you! Let's share it."
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