Dorothy Hopkirk Ackerman passed away March 10th. Her memorial service was held on March 19th. She was 91 when she died. She and Gene Ackerman had been married almost 70 years. One of the people who spoke at the service was a vibrant young black woman who had been one of Dorothy’s hospice workers. She stood up and described how Dorothy looked at Gene with such loving eyes, even when Gene was being difficult. She had asked Dorothy how she was able to do that, and Dorothy replied “It takes lots of practice.”
It’s easy to love someone when they’re being kind and generous, wooing you or otherwise making you feel like you’re the center of the universe. It’s much more difficult to love someone when they’re being mean, stubborn, attacking you or making you feel worthless.
Being a mother is great practice for learning how to love. My mother was 22 when I was born. She used to tell people it was like babysitting, except the parents never came home. That’s the problem—you need to already know how to love before you’re qualified for the job of parent. It is pretty easy to love a baby, especially when they smile at you and look at you like you are the most amazing person they have ever seen. Babies don’t know how to do anything other than look at people with love in their eyes.
It takes lots of practice to remember how to look at someone with love in your eyes when they’re being difficult.