Gracie’s relatives came to town last week, and her 85-year-old cousin stayed with her. Mind you, Gracie celebrated her 96th birthday this winter and lives in a rather small one-bedroom apartment.
And her cousin slept over for a week.
So where did Gracie sleep every night for seven nights in a row?
On the love-seat in the living room.
Gracie said that the sleeping arrangements didn’t bother her a bit. She simply dangled her feet off the end of the mini-sofa and proceeded to “sleep like a rock.”
Always the eternal optimist, Gracie never would have mentioned where she lay her head for the duration of her cousin’s visit, if I hadn’t asked. For her, it was of little importance. She was much more interested in telling me about the special desserts that they ate and the wonderful places they visited.
It has taken me awhile to digest the fact that a woman soon approaching her 100th birthday spent a week “couch-surfing” in her own apartment. I don’t know many women in their 50s or 60s who would give up their beds and agree to sprawl out on a love-seat for seven long nights. In fact, there may not be many gals my own age who would make such a sacrifice.
But if we want to live to be as old — and as joyful and vibrant — as Gracie, then maybe we should take a cue from this seemingly simple story. Be gracious and be adaptable. Let us never think that we’re too “anything” (too old, too tired, too financially strained) to make sacrifices for others.
When our hearts are filled with love and good intentions, we’ll always have enough time, space, and energy to give away.
For Gracie, there is no such thing as an “inconvenience” — there is only opportunity.
One of the greatest gifts of my life-story work is that I get to meet really unique, amazing people doing unique, amazing things with their lives. At every age.
This week, I got a call — three calls, to be exact — from a very enthusiastic 97-year-old friend of mine, Gracie. She had read in the town paper that a local celebrity was in need of "extras" for a car-dealership commercial being taped at the community church on Saturday morning. The scene: a mock wedding. If you were interested, you needed to be at the church at 9:30 a.m. dressed in going-to-a-wedding attire.
I know that Gracie doesn't usually get up and going until mid-morning, at best. But she's not one to "excuse" herself from living because she's too old or too tired. Gracie's almost always game for whatever turns up (or whatever she hunts down).
She left three separate messages on my voicemail Friday night to be certain that I had all of the event information — as surely I would want to attend.
Well, I didn't. I guess I'm a bit of a wallflower at heart.
But Gracie was there — in her blue dress-suit and red hat.
She called me when she got home a little before noon. The lilt in her voice was enough to know — she had a blast.
As I look ahead and imagine myself with a headful of gray hair and a shuffle to my step, I can only hope that I will embrace life as enthusiastically as my dear friend. Not only is she open to experience the surprises and opportunities that life may bring — she goes out looking for them.