|An elderly man in northern FranceBy Blaikley, Ernest|
Children are asked all the time what they want to be when they grow up. They excitedly answer with dreams of becoming doctors, Olympians, and parents. Their eyes sparkle at the idea of becoming an adult. But we fail to ask them who they want to be.
As parents we try to nourish and build successful futures for our children. We help with homework to keep grades up, send them to dance and softball practice, and we show them how to be the best parents they can be through example. It is through example that we need to show them WHO they want to be.
I've really been mulling over this subject the last few months. It is all due to an elderly gentleman who regularly dines at the restaurant I work at. We have a lot of regulars, and we do cater to the senior citizen population, but this man is different. All through society, and I see it in the restaurant every day, we see the cranky side of our elderly population. We hear stories all the time of senior citizens complaining or being grumpy with everyone in general. It is to the point where we expect this behavior. I won't get into my theory that society's treatment towards the elderly is the cause of much of this stereotypical demeanor-that is a story for another day.
But this man is different. Everyday he walks in the door, the entire staff is delighted to see him. He simply shines. He is always smiling, joking, and starts up conversations. He jokes about his slow speed and his failing eyesight. His stories about his time in the war, his children and grandchildren, and even his doctor visits are all told with smiles and usually some wisdom. Life has handed this man some difficult cards. In the past year he has fallen a few times, had cancerous spots removed, and is currently suffering dizzy spells. Yet he smiles through it. He talks about how grateful he is for everything he has. And here I am crying and complaining because the rose bushes out front stabbed me through my gloves and left a sliver of thorn in my thumb. I complain that I don't have the money to get my nails done or that the baby wouldn't sleep more than 2 hours at a time.
I am an asshole.
I have 4 amazing children that I get to watch grow. I have a beautiful home that is filled with material items and so many more memories. I have the money to feed my family healthy meals and still take them out for a fun evening once in a while. I have decent health and my children are very healthy. I have health care plans for them that help me keep them healthy. I HAVE SO MUCH! So why do I spend my time complaining about what I don't have? Why do I think negative thoughts about people in the grocery store and let people who have no business in my life upset me? WHY?
That is not who I wanted to be. That is not who I want to be.
So I decided to change.
As humans we are always a work in progress and I like to think that I am making huge progress. I try to concentrate on the positive. If something upsets me, I try to look inside myself and find out why. When I find myself judging the lady at the grocery store, I try to figure out what I am insecure about in myself.
But no is perfect and everyone messes up.
I had a slight set back last week. My hours at work were cut for a few weeks and I spent days complaining, blaming, and threatening to leave or file partial unemployment. While I still might consider a new job and file for partial unemployment if the hours continue to be non-existent, I am not going to continue to blame my co-workers or ruin their mood by complaining about it. I am not going to spend time thinking about all the bad things that could happen to my boss or the building. Instead, I am going to concentrate on the large projects I want to accomplish around the house that I complain about never having time to complete. I am going to plan some mommy-baby time and have a picnic with my kids. Maybe even a night with Steven where we can be adults and not talk about diapers and vomit. I have this time away from work and I don't want to be the person that can only see the downside. I don't want to be the person who lets crap like this drag me down.
This man at my work had 4 cancerous spots taken off his nose and he came in to say hello and have his bacon, eggs, and toast. And he smiled and told stories about the waiting room and the other Vets he had the privilege of speaking to and reminiscing with.
THAT is who I want to be.
THAT is who I want my children to be.
And only through example am I able to show them how to be that person. I am so grateful that this sweet old man came into my life and showed me this. It is my hope that through example (and the sharing of my story) that other people will see how much sunnier life is when you make it that way.