June 28, 2018: Letters to Newswest;
Wisdom of the Ages The secret to life.
Jack Wright, my beloved spouse, and I moved into our apartment at Unitarian House on 15 January 2011. In May Jack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Devastating, no question. But what happened next was reason not to despair.
The entire Unitarian House community rallied around us with education, practical advice, companionship, and loving kindness, which sustained us through my years as care partner at Unitarian House, and eventually Jack’s time at Grace Manor long-term care, until his peaceful passing on 12 February 2017.
I can’t imagine what would have happened to us without this cherished place. But, there is a secret to life at Unitarian House.
Immediately we moved in, aside from feeling safe, we noticed that practically everyone smiled at us. Of course, Jack’s diagnosis wiped the smile off my face for several days, but I was deeply comforted by the reassuring smiles of those around us. It was a great lesson, and I set about exploring what turns out to be wisdom of the ages.
Smiling is really good for us and has long featured in both medicine and meditation. So, began my practice of smiling just to feel the sense of peace that it induces.
Thankfully, Jack kept his smile almost to the end of his life. I would like to share some favourite quotations for you to ponder:
– “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” (Tich Nhat Hanh).
– “Peace begins with a smile. Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa
– “Wear a smile and have friends. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?” George Eliot
– “Everyone smiles in the same language.” – anonymous.
Without exaggeration, I can say that Unitarian House and all that smiling saved and continues to save me. For those who want scientific proof, you can find plenty on the Internet – just search the health benefits of smiling. The same is true for laughing and singing.
Finally, and in mirth: You can only hold a smile for so long, after that it’s just teeth.
Unitarian House Resident.
Photo Caption: Janine Poley a resident of Unitarian House, enjoys life to the utmost in a peaceful community of beauty, fellowship and laughter. Photo by Diane Russon.