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Patience and puzzles

Do you do puzzles? I do. I’m talking here about jigsaw puzzles, those epic challenges of shape rotation, pattern matching and searching. (You can keep those ones that are a picture of nothing but baked beans, those are just guess-and-check exercises in martyrdom; you can tell they were invented for the “so-and-so likes puzzles, let’s see how they go with THIS one! haw haw haw!” market. Now that I think about it, don’t just need keep them, shove them where the pieces don’t fit. And stop that giggling.)

Tiny steps

My Dadini taught me to love puzzles. I have a huge memory file loosely tagged “puzzles, misc” crammed with memories of us working together, quiet and cooperating, or chatting and laughing, or whatever we needed. And as I grew up, I realised ‘need’ isn’t too far off. They’re good for you. They’re head-clearing and settling. Puzzles demand patience.

If anyone knows patience, it’s my Dadini. As a family, we’ve had plenty (no more thank you, I’m quite full) of health crises and physiological turmoil. Some acute and instantly chaotic, some tedious, eroding and long-term: and all can only be addressed with patience and problem-solving. Dadini and I — and a few other members of the immediate Familini — have chronic health issues: the kind that periodically flare into interesting crises, but are generally just day-to-day challenges in patience, compassion and respect for the body’s obstacles. (APPROACHING METAPHOR.)

Taking shape

With a puzzle, you know you have everything you need to finish, but to get the pieces in the right order, you have to patiently sort through them. As you get them in, the others start to make more sense and you can find their spots as well. You work on different parts of the puzzle — I’ll do the bit with the swan princess and you do the bit with the chainsaw psychopath and we’ll match them up later — and so the big problem becomes lots of little ones, much easier to work on. From chaos to order through patient nibbling.


Starting to come together

Which, it turns out, is an essential life skill. The patience needed to manage chronic health issues is a godsend and a hard one to learn if you don’t already have it. Ongoing health stuff brings loads of unique challenges. Not insurmountable, but hard enough to make you want to sit down and bite kelpies whenever you think of them. So what do you do? You break them down into smaller challenges and get those in order, then you link them together and suddenly you’ve finished half the puzzle. Sometimes you have to go really small: some days, just getting a cup of tea has to be broken down into tiny, shuffling steps. Thank God I have a Dadini who gave me those skills well before I needed them.

From chaos, a rooster!

I have a Dadini who taught me patience and the ability to see a big, dragging problem as lots of little, manageable ones. I have a Dadini who taught me that if you’re patient and logical, you can solve almost anything. I have a Dadini who taught me to solve problems so well that I do it for shits and giggles.

Happy birthday Dadini.

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