Saturday, December 6, 2008

Life is What You Make of It

The last six weeks have not been easy ones in our family. However, now that my mother is so much better than she was when we started out, our moods are lightening somewhat. Still, daily visits to a nursing facility have a way of turning a day somber. But yesterday was a real exception.

My uncle is a permanent resident of the facility where my mom is in temporary residence, and yesterday, Friday, was, B"H, his 90th birthday. My cousin decided she would bring in a cake and we would have a little private celebration in one of the lounges. Frankly, everyone who heard about this expressed sadness that such a milestone would be celebrated, if that was the right word, in such a place. No one was particularly upbeat.

And then party time arrived. Three out of four of my uncle's kids were there, my mom and I were there and a super close friend originally from Seattle of many year's standing also came. My cousins brought coffee and cake and candies and flowers and our friend brought birthday balloons. And we stood up and sang Happy Birthday with real feeling, recognizing that making it to 90 deserved a joyful offering. And then the reminiscences started flowing faster and faster. And my mother made a speech and gave a brocha to my uncle that he should celebrate many more birthdays and she should be there to speak at them, ad mayoh v'esrim. And we were all laughing and joking and happy to be in each other's company. And we were making memories together to take into the future. And far from being a depressing occasion, everyone there came away with the feeling that they had been privileged to attend this party.

We got any extra present during the party. A third grade from Bais Rivka of Crown Heights was on an all-day visit to the facility and were told about my uncle's birthday. They came in and sang a beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday and songs for Shabbos and gave my uncle all kinds of handmade notes with birthday wishes. They brought him balloons, but more importantly, they brought him a reminder of why we keep on living.

I don't think the car really needed any gas to get me home; it could have run on the fumes of my euphoria. My mom always likes to remind us kids that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We followed her advice to a tee yesterday and we were all enriched by doing so. So yes, life is what you make of it. And yesterday we remembered to make life beautiful, to make it joyous, to inject hope instead of sadness. Yesterday added pleasure to today. And yes, to quote the Beattles, "Yesterday, all our troubles seemed so far away...."


Ezzie said...

Amen, nice post.

Lion of Zion said...

happy birthday

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your uncle, ad me'ah ve'esrim ve'sheesha chodoshim. And Refuah Shelema to your mother.


Anonymous said...

what a beautiful post. it brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons, not the least of which that my grandfather died in a nursing home just 4 months shy of his 90th birthday. Keep on trucking, and mazal tov on your uncle reaching this wonderful milestone surrounded by family, friends, and lots of people doing chesed.