Saturday, May 17, 2008

Brighten Your Day

Yesterday, my husband and I visited a friend who is recovering from a mild stroke in a Rehabilitation Centre. When we arrived at the hospital we were just in time to witness a group of elderly people, all in wheel chairs, participating in therapeutic exercises with an instructor.

I watched as they followed instruction to lift their hands, put them behind the neck, massage around their eyes, massage their cheeks, put clasped hands on their heads and other simple exercises that were quite challenging for some.

One woman, who seemed to be in her late senior years, was so intent on the exercises! She did not just do the exercises for the sake of doing them; there was a sense of seriousness and determination on her face as she went through every motion the instructor gave, some with difficulty. In my mind, I nicknamed this woman, Zesty.

At the end of the exercises, the instructor gave some announcements about the Library Cart that would soon be coming for those who want to read magazines and books. He also announced that there would be a bingo game at 1:30 p.m.

Zesty was keen on the bingo. At the word “bingo” her face lit up and she asked the instructor: “What time is the bingo?”

“1:30 p.m.” was the answer.

And it was not long before she asked him again about the time for bingo.

“1:30 p.m.” was the answer again from the instructor.

It was remarkable to observe Zesty, bent on having some excitement and fun. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she was making effort to lift her spirit. She was determined to rise above her disability and enjoy whatever was available in order to break the boredom and routine of hospital life. Zesty was determined to brighten her day. And her zest for brightening her day inspired me.

I did not get an opportunity to talk with Zesty but I asked my friend about her. He told me: “That lady had a stroke and she is now recovering from it. And though at times, some of us complain about our lot, this lady never complains...”

I thought about myself. I find that because of much sitting at the computer for several hours each day, there is a marked need for daily exercise—nothing strenuous, no barbells or anything like that—but simple stretches morning and evening that would keep my body toned and in good order. Here I am, healthy and able to be mobile on my own, and often covet the time I have to put into my exercise routine which would help me overcome muscle aches and pains that are in no comparison to Zesty’s challenge. And I often complain too!

Watching Zesty's enthusiasm to have her body functioning well again made me realize how we often take the functioning and health of our bodies for granted, moving our limbs how and when we want, and not recognizing this mobility as a gift from God. And for this we should continually be grateful.

And as to Zesty's enthusiasm for brightening her day, I was inspired. As I left the hospital, I said in my mind to Zesty: “Way to go, Zesty.”

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