I have had the honor to visit with 100’s of people age 60 all the way to 103 doing home health work. And, here is the ultiamte secret of life I learned from them. THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IN THE END of life is to answer YES to these two questions in the end.
1. Did you love others well?
2. Were you loved well in return?
Seriously, everyone I met was sick because that is why I went to their homes, to help them cope psychologically with their illnesses. And, almost all of them were 60 plus, with the average age around 75. The oldest person I met was 103. I saw dozens of people who had been married 60 plus years. The longest lasting marriage was 75 years, and they were sweethearts for 5 years before that. That is 80 years together.
The people I met lived in vastly different economic circumstances. A few lived in trailers in campgrounds. Many lived in low income housing. Some were in homeless shelters. Then there were those whose homes overlooked the ocean and who lived in exotic mansions. Some were famous movie stars (you would all know one of them, but confidentiality keeps me from saying names here). One was married to a very famous actor (and you would ALL know him) and now she lived in a trailer. There was also the mansion I pulled up to that had a yacht in the backyard. A famous judge, a former dancer from the Ziefield follies (she used to be gorgeous), a famous commerical personality (you would all know him too), a member of a very famous jazz band (most would have heard of him as well).
Yes, I have SEEN the gamut. And, it is too bad most people don’t get to spend at least one year of their lives (I’ve done it for five of mine) seeing what happens to us all in the end. Money? It truly DOESN’T HELP! Gasp! How could I say such a thing? Because even those who had money for terrific health care, if they were jerks throughout their lives (lying, cheating, abusing, hurting others
and themselves), or if they let themselves be stomped on and abused (women who put up with horrible partners), in the end all their great money and health care did for them was KEEP THEM IN THERE EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL MISERY LONGER!
The ONLY people who were truly happy (and remember they were all sick when I went to see them), were the people who were loving AND loved!
A few stories stand out.
One, the man who was a famous judge who had that yacht in his backyard. He was so sick and all he wanted to do was continue to be there for others through his prayer group. (He was busy collecting prayers over the internet for people and sending them prayer emails back). His very extended family was all over invested in caring for him & concerned for him. They had nothing but wonderful stories to tell about their widowed father/grand-father. I was so impressed.
Two, the man who had been a total jerk to his family and ex-wife and had come to the United States from Scotland to live in a small trailer in a campground no less. Why? Especially when the health care was better in the United Kingdom? Because, now in his 70’s he was sick of being a jerk and wanted to make it up to the people he hurt before he died.
Three, the woman who lived in a homeless shelter, also in her 70’s who glowed… and I mean GLOWED… with so much joy, laughter, and love despite the horrible physical pain she was in, I just had to go see her a few more times even though I had to make up a reason to do so to discover her secret. She lived in a small room in a home a nun had donated to the help the poor. There was room for her bed, her grandson’s bed next to hers, and a desk for a computer. And, I have NEVER met a more joyful and loving person in my life. She told me the story of her life, how her husband had left her to go marry her sister. How she had raised her children in a gang infested neighborhood and when someone threatened to kill her son, she made huge sacrifices to
move her two boys somewhere else. There she fiercely protected them and gave her all in raising them. And, they LOVED her so much!
Later, her one son was killed in an accident. The other son went on to have a child of his own. Then he died of cancer later in life. Now, she had the grandson who slept on the mattress next to her and watched over her, while he went to college trying to make a better life. Face it. Her life sucked! Or, did it? She had learned to be so compassionate and loving, so filled with humor, dignity, and grace… all the people in the homeless shelter loved her. I watched. They couldn’t stop coming into visit her. She told me once, “God provides for me. He gives me everything I need.” Then someone came into her room with a meal they cooked up in the kitchen for her for lunch. “See,” she laughed out loud. “I don’t even have to ask for food!”
These are some of the standout stories. I have many more including horrible ones. The horrible ones? They were all due to people having lived selfish, greedy lives where they thought they could get away with lying, cheating, and abusing others. Certainly, they weren’t loving, even if throughout their lives people had tried to love them. Or they thought it was somehow noble to tolerate abuse, sacrificing in all the wrong kind of ways, being doormats, letting people run all over them. Here, they were not loved even if they tried to love others.
So, I am giving you a MAJOR HEADS UP!
LIFE IS SHORT!
LIVE IT WELL!
And remember, “The GREATEST SECRET you will EVER learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
Love and blessings,
Copyright 2011 by Dr. Lisa Love. All rights reserved.
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