Pep Talk: “Limit Lament”

November 26, 2017

The beautiful woman looked your scribe straight in the eyes. “I was born 97 years ago in Havana, Cuba, moved to New York City when I was about six and ventured to Colorado….God knows when.” We laughed heartily at the craziness of reaching almost a century of living and having memory issues. Sista, it happens to dudes four decades younger, too.

This fabulous conversation was toward the end of A Stronger Cord’s visit with elderly residents at Forest Street Compassionate Center in Denver’s northeast Park Hill neighborhood. On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, the Knuckleheads support Bessie’s Hope and its service to our nation’s seniors living largely isolated lives. Sixty percent of our nation’s elderly residing away from home NEVER have visitors. This community wellness program, in partnering with nonprofits like Bessie’s Hope, is determined to reduce that dismal number. It’s unacceptable. America’s seniors deserve better.
As we continued the conversation, this vibrant nonagenarian learned of a story in that morning’s Denver Post. A fellow 97-year-old, Robert McAdam, had set a world record in his age group at the recent Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5K. “Wow, that’s pretty cool. We are blessed.”
Admiration for this amazing soul and other residents who ventured from their rooms to sing, dance and visit was off the charts. The room was buzzing with similar conversations focused on humans with much to give but few opportunities, because of their isolation, to engage in the process.

For whatever reason, the ol’ cranium wandered back to something Father Greg Boyle, founder and leader of Home Boy Industries, had to say about life. It’s up and downs. The good, bad and ugly. The Los Angeles-based Jesuit priest is a mentor. He recently fired off an email that concluded with, “Lament can’t get a foothold if gratitude gets there first.” Amen, buddy.
Living 97 years like this fabulous new friend? The brown-eyed beauty has seen it all. From further conversation, it was learned she moved to Denver on a whim. “I can’t remember how long ago.” We laughed again before she turned serious, “I count my blessings everyday.”

Lament can’t get a foothold on this incredible woman who has no family in Denver. The 30 or so ASC volunteers present dubbed her “The Dancing Queen” upon her arrival in the Forest Street community room. “I heard all the commotion out here and wanted to join the party!” Carol proclaimed while, steadily handling a walker, prancing into the room. It was awesome.
Lament or gratitude? Which to choose? Lament’s defined as “To feel or express great sorrow or regret.” Meanwhile, gratitude’s definition is, “Feeling or showing one values a kindness or benefit received.”
Whether living to almost 100, or wherever we’re positioned chronologically on this roller coaster called life, many experiences force us into sorrow and regret. Stuff happens. The big question becomes, how long does lament linger? Be determined to not let it get a foothold. 
With time, allow gratitude to grow, limit lament and pray we never forget the value of such belief.

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