When I was 19, I was working as an aide at a Florida nursing home managed by my mother and father. This is a story about a 92-year-old, petite, poised and proud woman, who was sitting in our lobby, patiently waiting for her room, as she had arrived alone and had arrived before we expected her. She was fully dressed each morning by 8 o’clock, her hair fashionably coiffed and her makeup perfectly applied, in spite of the fact that she was legally blind.
Her husband of 70 years had recently passed away, making this move necessary. There was no other family, as she had out lived them all. They hadn’t had any children; therefore, she was now on her own.
After hours of waiting patiently in the nursing home lobby, she smiled sweetly when I advised that her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that have been hung on her window.
“I love it”! she said with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room … just wait,” I said. It hadn’t dawned on me that I had said this to a blind lady.
The she spoke these words that I will never forget; “That does not have anything to do with it,” she gently replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not does not depend on how the furniture is arranged. It is how I arrange my mind.
“I have already decided to love it. It is 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 parts of my body that no longer work or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do work.