As I waited for my 83 year old grandmother to finish her lunch in the Alzheimer’s nursing home cafeteria, I met one patient, Selma, whose contagious smile sparkled. I asked Selma if she liked living here, and she told me that Disney World was a wonderful place to live. Selma then proceeded to ask me if I was married, had kids, was a dog, had a cat, went to college, graduated from Oxford, or had been to the Taj Mahal, all of which I responded to with, “no.” Then she asked me something, that despite her insanity, made complete sense.
“Can you still jump?”
“Of course I can jump!”
“Well, keep jumping because one day you won’t be able to!”
The childish question she asked that day in the hallway made me realize that Selma was referring to more than physically jumping. The ambiguity of the jumping to which she referenced was life, strength, courage, tenacity, dreams, love, health, hope happiness, the future, and freedom.
Jumping, in all of its connotations, sustains mental and physical health. Life is short, and I believe that we should all keep jumping. Science shows that those who exercise live longer and have a reduced risk of dementia. Exercise creates endorphins which keep us content. A happy disposition makes for a positive outlook. A positive outlook creates for a successful future. If one puts positive energy into the universe the rewards will be abundant. Without jumping, life seems dismal.
My Grandma Alice was a woman of material possessions; she had more expensive do-dads, gadgets, and jewelry than could be counted in five years. And she NEVER threw ANYTHING away. She had over a thousand disposable straws and plastic cups, over forty sterling silver 8X10 empty frames, and all the gas, electrical, and phone bills from 1953. But Alice’s Alzheimer’s left her possessions to sit and collect dust. Alice never jumped; she sat on her hands and admired her things, and now it’s much too late.
My Great Grandma Hilda was dealt a lousy hand in life; she was widowed at 48 with two Down’s syndrome sons. But she kept positive, took a risk, and jumped. There’s nothing she could have done to chance her situation, but she jumped at the opportunities to better her predicament. Now, at 97, she is intellectually sharper than many. In 1960 Hilda jumped, eyes closed and scared, and in 2009 she is still jumping, eyes open, and her heart hopeful.
Jump; just try it. Jump when you’re happy; jump when you’re upset, sick, angry, hopeful, excited, exhausted, nervous, frustrated, hungry, and cold; jump when you’re ready to start over. Jumping is the secret to youth; it is the elixir of life and the hope for a better tomorrow. I believe we should all keep jumping.