As a child, I used to go with my family to watch devotional movies – the ones that had God coming and setting everything right. One thing about God, besides his omnipotence, that always fascinated me, was his perpetual, seemingly endless happiness. I even made a resolution, on my tenth birthday, to ask him about the secret behind the all-knowing smile, that refused to leave his lips.
As a grown up, I forgot all about it, until quite recently.
My friend who works as a part-time manager at one of the old age homes I volunteer in, called me to inform that one of the residents, an eighty nine year old gentleman had passed away. My normally calm and composed friend, sounded so distraught that evening, that I could not help asking her more about the departed soul.
The old age home had three wings – a luxury wing, with private rooms, facilities and dedicated assistants, for those who could afford, a ‘normal’ wing for the ‘regulars’ who paid for and lived in ‘shared rooms’ and a third wing for the underprivileged – the so called charity cases.
I mostly volunteered at the latter two and hence never got a chance to interact with this gentleman, whose death broke my friend’s composure.
He had moved into the old age home, a couple of years earlier, when he was eighty seven, after his wife, a partner for sixty years, passed away.
The day he moved in, after making him sit and wait on a couch at the foyer, while she filled the forms and completed the formalities, my friend took him along, to show him his room. On the way, she began describing the place and the amenities. He cut her short and told her that, he loved the place and was sure, that his stay there, would be a ‘Happy’ one.
My surprised friend, who normally saw, sad old people, who spoke about their past and missed their youth, asked him how he was so sure, when he had hardly seen the place.
She remembers the old man’s reply to this day. He told her that, as he had decided to like the place and stay happy, he had no doubts about being so.
He was a retired government servant, who chose to stay at the old age home, instead of moving to the US with his children and be a ‘burden’ to them. Every time they came down to visit him, he would go vacationing with them, only to come back to the ‘home’.
During his stay, he would go out of his way, to help my friend and other workers, in planning activities, for the elderly residents. He even mentored the children of the sweepers and tutored a couple of them for their board exams.
He stayed happy and active till the end and died peacefully in his sleep, barely three days after a short vacation with his granddaughter.
From my friend’s narrative, I got the answer for my age old question – I realized that the secret, is all about, loving, embracing the present, spreading cheer, helping those in need and just deciding to stay ‘A Master of Happiness’