Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy is Always Possible

I posted this on Facebook last week but wanted to leave it here as well.  

Emerson’s school choir performed a selection of songs from their Christmas program at a retirement facility yesterday afternoon. When we walked inside the director asked us if the choir was performing in the Memory Care community or in the Assisted Living. I was unsure and was silently praying that we were not headed to Memory Care. I didn't think my heart could take being in a place like the one my mom lived. A place, though beautifully appointed, is where one’s memories are... entrusted to people who never knew them. And while I was lost in thought I heard her tell us that indeed we were headed to Memory Care and to please come with her. I straightened up and followed obediently with Emerson and the other eager children. And then I got the most surprising and delightful gift I never knew I wanted.
With a wide grin and outstretched hands she came toward me as though we were dear friends. Her black sweater was on inside out and runaway white hairs fanned across her shoulders and sleeves. Her hair, though slicked back in a wide headband, was neither washed or styled. Yet she exuded an undeniable beauty. She clasped my hands in hers and said excitedly, “The children, they’re all so precious. Every single one!” I agreed that indeed they are. I kept my eye on her throughout the program and saw that she beamed with jubilation and kept her hands clasped before her as though she could not contain her delight. After it was over I went up to her and she grabbed my hand again and said, “Every one of them –a gift.” I told her that she was a light and was so full of joy. She looked directly at me and said, “Well, of course.” This woman may have no idea who she once was or what her life was once about, but today she knows this: she is a person of joy. To her it appeared to be the obvious and only choice.
 And just like that, I received my first Christmas gift of the season, one that I feel sure my mom was a part of. This beautiful soul with Christmas in her heart lit the kindling within me and set ablaze my gratitude for this moment, this season, this life in which joy is always possible when I choose to embrace it.

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