Some questions are silly and impossible to answer. Not long ago someone wanted to know what the happiest event of my life was. Initially I ran through all of the glorious moments attempting to tabulate their value and then I realized that there is no possible way to choose just one. How do you rank getting married to a wonderful man with the births of two beautiful daughters? Who is able to place a number on earning a college degree versus landing a first job? Life is filled with many exhilarating times that bring smiles to our faces and become memories that we cherish forever afterward.
As a child I loved Friday nights visiting with my cousins at my grandmother’s house and Sunday afternoons eating dinner with my other grandparents. Summers spent exploring the woods near my home and riding my bicycle along tree shaded streets was delightful. Vacations on my grandparent’s farm were the highlight of many years. Christmas morning when I still believed in Santa Claus was magical.
The first time my future husband told me that he loved me made me want to dance and sing. His proposal under the lights of a Christmas tree made me giddy. Walking into our first home was the most wonderful feeling. Sharing tea with my mother-in-law and listening to her wisdom was priceless. Hearing my mother tooting her car horn when she dropped in unexpectedly still made me smile. Watching my children grow into bright and brilliant and beautiful young women filled my heart with joy. Holding my grandchildren in my arms was miraculous. Knowing that I made a difference in the lives of my students filled me with pride.
Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve parties at my brother’s home never failed to bring me joy. Celebrating birthdays with family and spending time with friends has always made my heart soar. Hearing a really good song or reading a wonderful book has enchanted me. Listening to the doves cooing in my backyard is a delight. Watching the children play on my street lifts my spirits. Getting a miraculous vaccine against a deadly virus brings unbounded relief. Singing in church on Sunday morning soothes my heart.
I know that I am a fortunate woman because I am barely able to list the thousands of moments that made me happy. Some were huge and others were quite ordinary, but always They made me realize that my world has been filled with love, kindness, opportunity. Happy times far outstrip the challenges and tragedies that have come my way. Because of the glorious events, the difficult ones were easier to navigate. I always felt that there would be a bright tomorrow. Like springtime when nature awakes from its slumber, darkness in my world has always been followed by sunshine and hope.
My mother taught me how to find great pleasure in ordinary things. A cup of my grandmother’s sugary coffee became a memory that reminds me just how far the reach of kindness stretched toward me. I have always live in a village of good people helping each other and looking out after me. Only a few times has someone purposely hurt me, and even then someone new came along to wipe my tears.
My life has not been a cakewalk but there have always been helpers in it, wonderful souls who showed up just when I needed them most. There always seems to be that random phone call that arrives when I am feeling down or I find myself in just the right place to soothe someone who is hurting. I have been blessed with empathy and enough intelligence to learn something exciting every single day. My life is ever changing, gloriously filled with a newness that is exciting.
I do not need artificial things to make me happy. Thoughtfulness is the greatest treasure in my mind. I’d rather spend an afternoon quietly talking with a truly good friend than partying in Las Vegas. I prefer a walk in the woods to a night on the town. My best memories are simple and very personal.
I have had a happy life that has sustained me in the darkest times. I know that I am quite lucky in that regard. I am thankful for the quirk of fate that landed me in this place at this time. I know that there is great suffering both near and far away. Because of the happiness that I have already experienced over and over again, I have the strength to survive if my own world is beset with darkness. The people who have made me happy have also made me resilient. Perhaps that might be what makes me happiest of all.