I believe the wisdom you need to get through life can come from some very unexpected places. Mine came from a little gray haired lady living in a nursing home. I have just recently realized how wise she was.
During my senior year of high school I had completed all my classes except one. Since I did not have much to do I took classes to become certified to teach people how to read. This allowed me to work with some of the special students in my high school. Once a week I went with this class on a field trip to visit different nursing homes. The kids would visit with the elderly and both seemed to enjoy the company. One older lady always stood out to me. She was always dressed, had her hair fixed, and make-up on. She always wore a dress. Her hair was sprayed and teased and reminded me of a big fluffy cloud. I remember thinking she looked like she was ready to go to church. One day I made the comment to her that she always looked so pretty when we visited. She told me she had her good days and bad days, but she had found that if she got herself dressed, fixed her hair, and put her make up on, even on the bad days it made her feel better. She said maybe it made her feel better if for no other reason than she had made the effort. This seemed very small and insignificant to me at seventeen, but during the recent death of my father I thought of her simple suggestion on how to cope with the bad days. It seems I have been having my good days and bad days, but I have been trying to make the effort to get up, get dressed, and take care of my children. This may seem like a simple act, but the way I have felt the last few weeks this has taken some effort. I really do believe she knew what she was talking about because I think it does make me feel a little better.
I never dreamed one of the things that would save me during this time would come from the little lady at the nursing home. I am certain, at the time, she had no idea she would have an impact on my life. Her simple antics and good spirit inspire me to keep pushing ahead. If for no other reason than to say I have made the effort. I hope that if I continue to forge ahead and try to be positive through this tragedy that eventually, I will have mostly good days. She seemed to have mostly good days. She was always in a good mood and would even make a joke now and then. Her good nature and positive attitude seemed to be contagious. I believe she was not only an inspiration to me, but probably many others. I find it comforting that though you may only be one person you can have a great impact on someone else’s life.
My little gray haired lady has since past on. If I could tell her anything I would tell her thank you for her positive attitude. Though her actions were very simple they have helped me during one of the hardest times of my life. I would like for her to know she was the one who gave me a little unexpected wisdom. And on those days that I do not feel like getting out of bed I think of her. As an adult I see just how hard it must have been for her to stay positive when she was sitting in a nursing home day after day. I know
she must have been lonely and bored, but she never complained. She was always a pleasure to be around. This makes me respect her even more.
I have decided to keep moving ahead and looking forward to those good days. I hope that, like the little gray haired lady, I might be an inspiration to someone who is having a few bad days. I believe you should never discount the infinite wisdom of your elders, they just might know what they are talking about. Even if what they are saying seems unimportant you should always take the time to listen. It may one day make perfect sense to you at just the right moment in your life and become your unexpected wisdom. One day when I am a little gray haired lady I will try and remember to have a positive outlook on things, no matter the circumstances, because you never know who is listening to your simple words of wisdom. It just might be a seventeen year old kid who thought she knew everything.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.