“You’re no Grandma Park”. Those were probably the most hurtful words I have ever heard. They were insinuating that she had stayed married to her alcoholic husband and I had not. I hate to admit it, but they may have been right. I am no Grandma Park. Not because I had the choice to remove my kids from a harmful situation when she didn’t, but because she managed to choose happiness daily. It is becoming very clear to me that I can’t seem to master the ability to be content in all circumstances. It hit me again yesterday while I was heaving, what felt like 100 lb, trash bags into a dumpster and was being drenched with trash juice. I was grumbling and complaining and cursing while I was completing all my unpleasant tasks of the day. (which also included, among other things, trying to find water valves that were buried under about a foot of mud; and the only way to remove the mud was with my newly manicured hands ) Grandma Park wouldn’t have had my attitude. She would have chosen happiness. Why can’t I just be content? I want to be like this sweet lady in the following story that was read at my grandmother’s funeral. It really is how my grandmother lived; choosing happiness.
The 92 year old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who was fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy. ” Mrs. Jones, you haven’t even seen the room…just wait.” “That doesn’t have anything to do with it”‘ she 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…its 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.”
Like the lady in this story with the really long run on sentence in the beginning, Grandma Park really did choose happiness. So, it may be true that, “I am no Grandma Park”, but I certainly can learn from her and strive to be like her. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go rearrange my mind.
P.S. Surprisingly, last night I experienced some measure of success. It was Cameron’s birthday celebration that included multiple 13 year old boys, pizza, and an arcade. Now, for those of you that don’t know me well, there are three activities that for as long as I have had children I have had to painfully endure. I don’t know why I have a disdain for them, but I do; and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t judge me for it. I have always despised putt putt, bowling and arcades. (especially arcades) So, though I wanted to give Cameron a fun birthday, I really wasn’t looking forward to hanging out in an arcade for hours on a Saturday night. Miraculously, I enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t know if it was because I decided to choose happiness before I picked up the first pubescent boy, or because they had me in stitches from the time I picked them up until the time I dropped them off. Laughter really must be the best medicine because even the concert of 4 teenage boys clapping their clappers in the back seat of my car for the entire ride home didn’t give me a headache or cause me to want to drive off the Rudee inlet bridge. ( I am still debating whether I should have the man behind the counter that allowed them to turn in their thousands of arcade tickets for clappers arrested.) Normally after a trip to the arcade, it’s all I can do to get home to a nice glass of Cabernet, my flannel sleep pants, and my People magazine. But, a last minute plea to go to a movie found me in a movie theatre well past my middle aged bed time; and actually happy about it. Again, I don’t know if it was because I rearranged my mind or not, but the usual me would have thought that was a night to be endured, not enjoyed. And, like the old lady with the fashionably coiffed hair in the story, I am thankful I now have happy memories stored away for when I am alone in a nursing home with few working parts. I just hope I, too, have fashionably coiffed hair.
So, thanks Grandma Park for modeling how to choose happiness. And, here’s to more things I can choose to enjoy instead of endure.
Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. -Groucho Marx
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about” – Dale Carnegie
Even though Groucho and Dale said it well, God said it first…..
A cheerful heart is good medicine… Proverbs 17:22
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… Romans 12:2