My mother died 44 years ago today. She was sweet to her children, kind to all. She would go miles out of her way to help someone out and always had a gentle word to give. She was 38 years old when she fell in the kitchen and cracked her skull. There was a history of physical abuse by her husband but he swore he was not to blame – this time. She had another one of her black out spells and fell backwards. She had occasional “spells” due to a dead spot on her brain caused by repeated blows to her head, blows that came at the fists of Paul, her husband. That was the diagnosis from Shands hospital in Gainesville. My grandparents, whom I lived with, tried to convince her to leave him. She and the babies that she kept having were more than welcomed with us. She wouldn’t leave him when the beatings continued because he threatened to take her babies from her, something very hard for a mother to endure, so she believed he would change and kept trying to please him so he wouldn’t go into his rages. He obviously had a mental disorder. I saw those fits of rage he would go into and they were never triggered by anything my mother did, nor anyone else. Back then people didn’t seek help for mental problems, it was a sign of personal weakness and Paul had an image to live up to amongst his hunting buddies.
One year later, at the age of 26, John died in a nasty car wreck while I was transporting my grandfather from Florida to New Orleans to live out the last of his days with his son. He was 59 and in the last stages of aggressive lung cancer. We didn’t have cell phones in 1969 so I wasn’t notified until the next day on my return to our home. John’s two children and his younger brother were in the car with him when the brakes gave out and he lost control in a turn. When the car hit the railroad armature that holds the pole to stop traffic John’s head was severely gashed by the car’s rear view mirror. He lived 7 hours but never regained consciousness.
Violent and unnecessary were those deaths of my loved ones. Because of all the deaths of close loved ones, five actually, in a four year span, I was once convinced I would not grow old. By the time my fifties came and went I knew differently. I am alive and am waking up to the thought that finding happiness in the day is up to me. I did not want to live after losing my son last year. But since I am alive I choose to be happy. I feel I have searched for the key of how to be happy forever. There is no special formula, no magic wand to wave, no super deity in the heavens to bestow happiness on me. In order to be happy, I just have to BE happy. One must adopt the philosophy of being. It just is. That’s all, no secret to uncover. Getting into the habit of pushing negative thoughts out of your head, and smiling at the absurdities helps and would be an excellent habit to get into. Since I did live to be old, and I have been waiting for all those years to be happy, it’s about time I started being happy.
Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy!