Happiness Is All In How You View Life

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As I write this it is 1:32 in the afternoon on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, and it is a VERY good day. Not because of anything that happened today, but because no day that follows a day like yesterday could be anything but good. Another of life’s lessons, I guess. I can always use one of those.

Yesterday started out a little rushed. We had to get up early to get Lolly ready to go to town for her annual flu shot. It takes extra time and work to get her ready to leave the house, and timing can be a problem if it isn’t all well planned. One thing I knew was that they were working on 87 between Pine and Payson. That added another variable to the mix: The who-knows-how-long-it-will-take-today thing. ADOT is good at that. I think maybe they teach courses in it down at the state offices. 

Also, the road rage on 87 has been off the scale lately. No mass shootings yet, but I’ve been practicing hunkering down in my seat just in case. Bullet-proof glass is too expensive.

Well, anyway, I got the car started up and in a place where we would be able to turn Lolly’s wheelchair at just the right angle to make it easy to lift her out of the wheelchair and into the passenger seat. Moving the car I got my first nice surprise: The weather. It had been cold in the morning all week, still down in the 40s at 10 in the morning. But as I stepped outside in a light jacket to move the car I was delighted to feel warm air and even warmer sun. I went back in, doffed the jacket, and set aside the soft, fuzzy green and black jacket I had chosen to go with Lolly’s pretty v-neck, black-and-toast-striped knit top, beautiful cream colored slacks, and aloe-treated fuzzy green socks.

Anyway, out we went, Lolly, David (my oldest son), and I. In just seconds we had Lolly in the passenger seat. David did up her seat belt as I folded up the wheelchair, lifted it through the car’s rear door, and stowed footrests and cushions. Up the drive to the road we went, down to the turn, and to 87 inside of five minutes — all at 25 calm, unrushed miles per hour.

A drive with Lolly in the car has to be slow and steady to avoid frightening her. At the intersection with 87 there wasn’t a car coming. We pulled out, drove calmly up the hill, and reached the turnout. By the time we got there we had collected the usual four cars behind us. Why not, after all? It’s a whole mile. :-)

But as I came out of the turnoff and started down the other side of the hill — now behind the four cars — I was astounded to see that they were not pasted together, each one waiting to hit the four-lane and blast off. Instead, they were nicely spaced out, and no one seemed in a rush.

On the four-lane I began thinking that Hollywood was staging a “drive-like-the-1940s” film or something. I swear to you that no one, not a soul, went over 50 miles an hour. 

And that’s the way it was all the way to town. I pulled over once and let some folks go by, but after that I actually caught up with them, and I was going so slowly I could have accidentally stuck it in reverse and not noticed it. For once, all the way down to Payson I talked to Lolly about beautiful green hills, blue skies, and trees beginning to don their fall colors. And she opened her eyes and drank it all in!

To make a long story short, we got our shots, wheeled Lolly back to the car, stopped at Wendy’s, got David a burger and drove home without the slightest incident. Lolly spent half the way home pigging out on still-hot french fries David fed her, something I can never get home fast enough so they taste fresh. And all the way home Lolly looked around at the hills and trees!

At the house, Lolly’s sister Betty and her husband Pete were waiting for us. Up the ramp we rolled Lolly (all my doors have ramps to them now) and into the house. Lolly was lifted into her recliner and settled comfortably — with her eyes open! Betty walked up to her, smiled and laughed, shook a happy finger in her face, and said, “I’m watching you, girl!” (It’s a British expression.)

Incredibly, after having said not one word in weeks, Lolly looked up, smiled, and said, “What’s making you so happy?”

Was it a good visit? Were we all happy?

Has a cat got a tail? Does it rain?

After Betty and Peter left I tried out an idea I’d had the night before while sitting alone in my little sitting room, where I go after Lolly is in bed. There’s a monitor in there. There’s a monitor everywhere in the house. No matter where Lolly is I can hear her. Sometimes I just sit and think.

What I tried was putting on KAHM radio in Prescott instead of playing some of the dozens of Lolly’s music CDs. I reasoned that hearing someone talking between the musical numbers might help Lolly to feel more connected to the world. You know what I mean? A little light news? The weather report? A few quiet commercials? Different voices? It has been six years since a television set was on in our house. Programs and news disturb Lolly; it’s part of her illness. And I have to keep my ears keyed to the monitors when she isn’t in the room, so I never have anything turned on. 

I tell you, Johnny. Sure makes for a quiet, peaceful house.

Anyway, I had the radio on for the first time in years. It didn’t get much of a trial, though. It was soon time for supper. I had made Lolly some beef and barley stewp — that’s beef and barley soup that’s too thick for soup and too thin for stew. Good stuff. Lolly loves it. Then supper was over and it was time to put on a movie. We watched “Tea For Two” with Doris Day. Lolly only watches musicals. We have a lot of musical DVDs and they are all good. Lolly’s favorite is “On Moonlight Bay.”

Then bedtime for Lolly, a kiss goodnight for her and a couple of hours in the sitting room for me. I’d been reading a biography of President Eisenhower the night before and had noticed it was coming to an end. I had quit, preferring to enjoy Ike alive and well for the day, leaving the inevitable for tomorrow.

Well, today was tomorrow. You can’t win ’em all. Bye Ike!

Then to bed. Every day when I climb in bed I tell Lolly how wonderful she is, how much I love her, and how happy she has made me over our 53 years together. Then I kiss her goodnight.

Last night I woke up an hour afterward, wondering why. Then I heard Lolly say, “Tom?” I turned to her, told her I was right there beside her, that I loved her, and everything was all right.

She went right back to sleep. So did I. 

Days don’t get any better than that.

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