I remember being really little, and my family going over to Grandpa Grape's and Nonny's house. I remember having sleepovers there when I just wanted Nonny-Grandpa-Jensen time. The thing about Nonny and Grandpa Grape is, they always made you feel like you were the favorite grandchild. (I'm pretty sure every single one of us feel like we are the favorite.) Whenever I went over, Nonny made sure that she had a can of Dinty Moore stew for me to have for lunch, because she knew it was my favorite. That, and Minute Maid fruit punch. They had squirrels that lived in the trees of their yard, and they would take me out, peanuts in my little hands, and Grandpa would pick me up to place the peanuts along the gate for the squirrels to get later. Then, Grandpa Grape would take me out to have Grandpa Grape-Jensen time while Nonny did her business around the house. Grandpa would take me on a walk around the block, or the park down the street, or every once in a special while, miniature golfing.
Years pass. Aging happens. Nonny fell down the stairs one day, and she was never the same. At first, it was just an infection. Eventually, it turned into dementia. Nonny and Grandpa Grape moved out of there home they have always lived in since they moved to Pocatello, and moved into a little apartment with no stairs. Nonny became worse, and had to be moved to the retirement home. Grandpa Grape lived with his daughter, my grandmother, Granna. For the next couple of years, everyday, without fail, the first thing Grandpa Grape would do in the morning would get himself ready for the day and drive down to be with Nonny, and there he would stay all day in his chair, to be with his love, while she laid in a bed. We would come and visit weekly, and there was never a time when my family would go that Grandpa was not there.
Nonny died February 22, 2012.
Grandpa "Grape" is 99 years old. That's almost a century of living. That's three years without his love. When I go over to visit him, I like to ask him what his life was like. He still has a witty mind. I asked him what made him love Nonny. He smiled and said, "She was the prettiest girl in the dancing hall."
Grandpa Grape had to go the hospital last week. My husband and I went over to visit him with Granna and her husband, Bill Al. A young nurse came in to help him with some therapy. She was a sweet thing, asking him questions while they worked with his arms. She asked him about Nonny, referring to her as "his wife." He smiled and told her briefly about their marriage, and that she passed away about three years ago. The nurse responded, "I just got engaged. Do you have any good advice for me?"
I think the rest of us in the room were slightly curious what he was going to say. I was at least. He was married a majority of his life. He gave up athletic scholarships to marry her. He and she went through the Great Depression together. They moved several times together. What was the secret.
His answer was simple. "Oh, just live a good life."
Just live a good life. A good life? It struck into my heart, and for the rest of the day, and really the week, it was on my mind. What is a good life?
Perhaps the good life is simply to live and love and sacrifice. Perhaps living a good life is putting others' needs before your own. We live in a world of defenses and offenses, a time of "If it doesn't fit my needs, or satisfies my desires, it's bad." We live in a world of "Good Guy vs. Bad Guy."
But what if we stopped? What if we changed?
What if we stopped worrying about ourselves and started being more concerned about others? On a personal level? What if instead of pointing fingers, we opened our arms? What if we accepted? I'm not saying always agree. There is a huge difference between accepting someone and agreeing with someone.
What if we sacrificed something we want for something better? What if we sacrificed ourselves for someone else? That may not mean your mortal life, but something of value, like time?
I think that it is in our spiritual nature to want to help others. If we were to look into the very depths of ourselves, and find the hidden treasure that is our gift for others, we would make a difference in the world. When we are honest with ourselves, understanding that not everything makes sense, and not everything may seem fair, but there is a purpose in life. That purpose is to live, and to do good.
With everything that have been happening in the world, Paris, Kenya... it's easy to be afraid. It's easy to be hurt. It's easy to think, "This isn't fair. This isn't right." We change our profiles pictures to show the flag. We share Facebook posts of the various news. We try to show our support.
I think that's great. But maybe we could do more.
Living the good life is living with love, compassion. Living the good life is to be the change you want to see in the world, especially during times like these. Being the good in this world is by starting small, and improving, not being stagnant.
We all have the power to change things. We have been given that gift.
Start small. Do something to make a change.