Yes, patience is part of my job description but all patience, like all virtues, have their limits, and a good thing, too, for it is part of the balancing act we have to play in life. Too much of one thing, too much lopsidedness, and we topple off the horse. So yesterday, nearing the end of my patience, I realized I could split my attention, like a hologram, and sit with my computer and edit while my mother talks as she sits on the sofa that she loves so much, her cup of tea before her, talking as if she is with company she is really enjoying and of which she is the center of attention. Editing can be mechanical so I can comment on her comments and stories and still do what I need to do without getting too antsy. She doesn’t mind at all since she has my attention, at least a part of it, and a ear that is even half listening.

Attention, I realized, is like a hologram: when you split it, it becomes two wholes instead of two halves. I am not like that American president — Johnson, was it? — who couldn’t chew gum and fart at the same time.

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