A game my sister, Leila, and I used to play with my Mum is called 'Journey through Europe'. It's a board game where you have a large fold-out map of Europe (the board part) and you are given nine cities to travel to and through (on nine cards), departing from and arriving back at the original city. The most complicated part of the game is planning your journey as you navigate a restricted flight path, sea-crossings and travel routes as well as finding cities you've never seen the names of before on the map itself.
Ramin and I now play this game, as well as Scrabble, Monopoly and Memory as part of his brain training sessions. When Ramin was first recovering from his year of relapses, he had Ergo-therapy in Germany where he and his therapist worked through various exercises together, including games. So when I officially became Ramin's Carer a few years ago, we decided together that for the two days a week when he is not Volunteering in Oxfam, we would play such games, and do our best to have the patience to complete them without killing each other!
You see, the challenge for Ramin and I is often my lack of patience with Ramin's slower pace and his lack of patience with the benefit he is meant to be receiving from playing any of these games. Also, if we're totally honest here, he would much prefer to leave his current neural paths as they are and watch a comedy show on TV, or listen to music, or sleep (all passive activities) than have to think and plan, remember details and work towards a goal. Yeah, I know people without MS have difficulties with being pro-active too - in fact many of my female friends get frustrated with their passive male partners and it is helpful for me to realize that sometimes its not an MS thing I'm dealing with, but a female-male thing!
For me, it's the hardest quality to learn. I think quickly, proactively. I'm a problem solver, a creative thinker. I like to analyse, consult, discuss options and figure out a new way of making something happen. Because of his particular journey with MS (the experiences can be very different) Ramin has been slowed down by an illness that took away his independence for a long time. Relapse-free, he is now in the slow but steady fight to recover and he gets frustrated with himself, with me and his body, his mind. Yes you can be patient in the moment, but what about staying patient year in, year out where you know you are progressing, but in the actual moment it's just a struggle, an exhausting struggle with a terrier-like wife next to you who won't let go?
So how can we stay patient, when working with our loved ones on a task? Can we do this alone? Or do we need to ask for a higher power to assist us?
In the Baha'i writings, Baha'u'lláh says, "He, verily, shall increase the reward of them that endure with patience."
My Dad often reminds of of this teaching. It's helpful to me because I know that sometimes Ramin and I are both just enduring - keep going - don't give up - yes, its tiring - yes, it's annoying - yes, it makes me angry -yes, it frustrates me - but endure with patience. And why? Well because of this:
Baha'ulláh also says, "The steed in the Valley of Search is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal."
So for Ramin and I to achieve our goal of his increasing independence we have to ride the horse of patience, through the game of Journey through Europe, through all the ins and outs of our marriage and through the way we react and respond to each other. This also says to me that on our particular life's path, staying patient as we suffer through (endure!) brain-training exercises while speaking lovingly with each other (and accepting our different capabilities) is also part of the development of our souls. It's not just brain-training for Ramin - its also soul-training for him and I, for both our higher natures strengthen as we grow closer to each other and ultimately, closer to God.