“I have lived a long life. If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that there are two types of people; good, bad, and those that aren’t worth counting.” A small elderly chuckle rolled from the pale man. “Time will always change, and older generations will always say they had it worse than the young generation.” Lost in the vision of his words he paused, blankly staring out at the courtyard. “Funny, if each generation has it better than the last, why is the world such a miserable place. Wars, wars and rumors of wars: that’s what each generation brings to the table. When will we learn war is not the answer? We are so eager to build and use the next biggest bomb.” A serious look fell over the gentleman as he sat slumping in his boxy blue and chrome wheelchair. “Do you know what the best defense is? The best defense prevents hostility. It builds unity. The best defense brings us together.” His chapped lips smiled. “Bet you didn’t know that.” Gazing back out at the courtyard, “Of course you didn’t know that. You don’t listen. Talk, talk, talk, that’s what people do. But with all of that talking, who is listening? I believe it’s chronic rambling. Everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to listen. If you can’t see the problem in that, then there is nothing I can teach you. We just need to shut up. Not for five or ten minutes, I mean shut up for a week. Sometimes I don’t say anything for a month. The nurses here call it depression, dementia, or Alzheimer. It’s not any of those. I just like to listen. When we listen, we get to see life play itself out like an opera. Each day is a new page or chapter in our lives.” The old man took a deep breath to allow for a pause and collect his thoughts. “Life is so magical. Just when you think it’s at it’s darkest moment, the sun peaks over the horizon. No one believes in magic because no one takes the time to look for it.”
A rectangular tray was placed before the senior. His shaking hands held his fork. With tines down, he stabbed at his vegetables. The conversation went silent as he sat there eating his meal. The nurse came by and took his empty tray.
“My compliments to the chef.” His smile exaggerated his pointy nose and chin.
The nurse didn’t look amused, and simply walked away. “Poor woman.” he stated as he turned his attention back to the conversation. “She has her youth, health, three lovely kids, and still has yet to find a reason to smile. I smile because I woke up. It was just last week that I was looking at the paper. I turned to the obituary section and blurted out ‘I win!’. It may have been rude, but it’s true. Everyday I wake up, I get to experience the secret to life.”
He watched as a couple walked by. “Do you want to know the secret to life?” Turning his attention to the mirror. “Find the secret to love and you will find the secret to life. For they are one and the same.”
He closed his eyes with contentment as the sun shone through the large bay window. “Now if you’ll excuse me it’s nap time, my friend.”