After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.
As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window. "I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."
"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged.....it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do."
"Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in."
"So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my memory bank. I am still depositing."
This reminds me of a long-time friend of mine who died recently. When she had to move from the independent living facility to the nursing home, she did it with grace. She was around ninety years old and her health had begun to fail. On my first visit to see her, she looked at me coming in the door and smiled. She said, “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.” For over two years she became a light in a sometimes dark place.
© 2008, John C. Fitts, III. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume 6 (2008).