He sat quietly, a 92-year-old slim, well-poised and proud gentleman, waiting until ‘his’ new room was ready. Of long habit he was up early and fully dressed with his hair fashionably combed and face clean-shaven, even though he is legally blind; and this morning was no exception.
He moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
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, the young aide provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the new drapes and mini-blinds 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.
Puzzled, the young woman said, “But, Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room yet; just wait until–”
“That has nothing 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.”
“Absolutely. 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. Well, my young friend, each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open here, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away . . .”
Francis of Assisi said, “Above all the grace and gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.
“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. . . It’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.”
Mr. Jones may have been born in 1923 but his mind is forever young, his attitudes resilient and pliant. There’s a reason people like him are such a joy to anyone nearby. They are ageless because their minds remain thirsty, their hearts infinitely expandable to receive and return love and esteem wherever and whenever offered.
People like Mr. Jones defy the usual mental picture of “old folks”. They never force their ideas and opinions on others, realizing their hard-won wisdom is worth more than simple amusement for younger, lesser thoughtful and impatient types.
The Mr. Joneses of the world are vast reservoirs of experience, willing to unselfishly share with anyone seeking their counsel.
It has been my pleasure and great good fortune to have encountered many such persons of the timelessness, good will and just plain fun Mr. Jones exhibits. It is my desire to pattern my living after the winsome, wonderful examples of such men and women.
May I never stoop to the crotchety, grouchy frownsomeness that too many aging men and women allow in themselves. “Great minds have great purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” (Washington Irving)
Life inexorably brings us all a share of misfortune. It isn’t that they occur; it is what I choose to do in response.
My desire is to emulate Mr. Jones and at least give the impression the misfortunes dealt me I chose to discard, always seeking God’s best rather than life’s least.
© D. Dean Boone, March 2015