This I Believe
I believe in optimism. My grandfather, Mekey, has always been full of life and optimism. In the twenty-two years that Mekey has lived with my family, I’ve rarely seen or heard of him getting upset or frustrated. In fact, most of the time that I have seen him he has been either laughing about an extremely childish joke or yelling greetings in his overpowering voice. At first, I dismissed his constant grin as senile-old-man symptom, but I would later realize the true importance and power of my grandfather’s optimism.
When my grandfather was ninety years old, he had a heart attack. Nearly two-thirds of his heart was failing and he was hospitalized for three weeks. At first, the doctors didn’t think that he’d survive at his age and if he did, he would be bedridden for the rest of his life. The odds were against him but, miraculously, he made it through the surgery. Unfortunately his conditions after he left the hospital weren’t quite as miraculous. He had trouble moving both his arms and had no movement in his legs at all. He could no longer feed himself, bath himself or even go to the bathroom by himself. But despite the radical turn in my once active grandfather’s life, he never complained or gave up hope. He was always optimistic.
Every day, Mekey would make his best effort to keep us laughing and keep himself hopeful. He would try and do anything he could by himself. He started with simply moving his fingers back and forth, back and forth; then his arms, back and forth, back and forth. After a lot of tedious repetition, he shocked the family, by revealing the tremendous amount of upper body strength he had regained. Mekey now had enough upper body strength to match his vibrant personality. But the real surprise came when, after a month or so, Mekey revealed that he could move his toes. His unstoppable optimism had driven him to beat all the odds and regain movement in his legs. With this spark of hope, it didn’t take long until he was able to raise his legs, stand on his feet, and finally walk. The doctors were shocked and the family was thrilled. Mekey was completely active once again.
After watching my grandfather go through such a trying experience, I can now truly understand the importance of optimism. By observing my grandfather, I can truly appreciate the power one’s perspective and attitude has on his situation. Just the other day, I asked Mekey if he needed help washing the dishes. He responded, “No thank you. It is good exercise for my hands no?” The statement seemed strange at first, but soon I realized the drive which true optimism can accomplish. Mekey rarely gets angry, not because he is some emotional master but because he sees nearly everything he encounters optimistically. If the trials and tribulations of our life where viewed as exercise rather than nuisances perhaps we could gain the same determination and drive as Mekey and accomplish the unexpected. Today Mekey walks with that same childish smile on his face and you can bet that when I see him I’ll be smiling right back with an inherited optimism that I couldn’t be happier about.
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