Ireland Inspirations

Ireland Inspirations

Monday, June 29, 2009

Elders and Persons with Disabilities

For the past 13 years, I've dedicated my life to enriching the lives of senior citizens and persons with disabilities. During this time, I've had the opportunity to witness enough humor to supply a nation with smiles every day; enough bitterness and heartache to balance this humor; an enormous amount of live Life-History, and more love than I'll ever be able to describe in the words that adorn this blog. Many years ago, I found myself traveling down a not-so-perfect path in life and was devoid of purpose, of hope for humanity, of respect for myself and others, and ultimately was lost in a storm even though I had a supporting family, a loving God, and an honest upbringing. I ventured out into a world of darkness and could no longer see the light of hopefulness nor could I no longer distinguish what was right and good in this world. A friend of mine one day, reached out to me and invited me to join him in a new project. Working at a retirement community. Well. . . to me, this was so far removed from anything that I thought I was capable of doing, not to mention desired. I mean. . .it just isn't cool when your 24 years old and working with a bunch of "old people". OR ISN'T IT? That answer should be obvious before you finish this article. What I didn't know at the time, was that taking the job WAS the coolest thing I could have ever done. I entered a world that forced me to honor and to obey the foundational rules that were taught to me as a child. I could no longer be that "cavalier" kid. I had responsibilities. I had 200 grandparents, all of the sudden. Oh my God. . . what had I gotten myself into? Well. . . . this is what I found. I found a group of people that were longing to have someone listen to them; to learn from them; to simply join them in their final journey in this life. I found teachers, counselors, ministers, veterans, hard workers, fathers, mothers, friends, and ultimately I found my mentors. I was consumed. I had entered LIFE UNIVERSITY and I was surely going to graduate Magna Cum Laude as a result with Doctorate Degrees in COMPASSION, HONOR, AND RESPECT to name a few. You see, for years I had spent my life saying this: "I'll pay you back. . when". . For the most part. . . this was the right answer and the expected outcome. One day, after being in the industry for a few years, another friend did an enormous favor to me and once again I told him "I'll pay you back." This time, that wasn't the anticipated outcome. This time, I was introduced to another phrase. He simply told me not to worry about paying him back, but to "pay it forward". He even gave me the video a few days later to solidify his concept for me. WOW. What a life changing moment. It was then, that I realized that I was already on the right path to "paying it forward". I did it every day and I could continue doing it. My purpose in life started to become clearer. I could use my talents as a singer, as a pianist, as a cook, as a listener, as a happy person, to positively affect the lives of so many people. I already had an eager audience, all I needed was to redirect my energies away from me and focus on others. God loaded me up in the talent department and gave me the abilities to do the job. . . all I needed was to focus on what was right. That simply was this: Elders and Persons with Disabilities many times become lost in the hustle and bustle of mainstream life. As if they aren't dealing with enough, they soon become consumed with the fact that they have somehow become a burden to society and for their families. A non-entity. And for some. . . this happens without warning and without cause, and for others, it's the natural progression of life. But here's the key. How many of these lives do we have a duty to embrace in our own life journey? In my opinion. . . we are all defining and establishing our purpose and our life legacy all the way up until the point to where we are at the end of this existence. Shouldn't we therefore attempt to honor and to accompany others on their journeys? Who knows. . . maybe through them, we are able to realize our own potential, develop our own legacies, establish our own purpose. Without having my life filled with the opportunity to serve our senior population and those with disabilities, I'm afraid I would have really missed the boat. I'm so fortunate that there were Angels that guided me back to living an honorable life and providing me the opportunity to experience the unselfish joy of giving back; of paying it forward; of making a difference. I challenge anyone reading these words to the following: The next you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with an elder or a person with a disability. . all you have to do is start the ball rolling with "Hi, How are you today?". Then sit back and listen and be prepared to have blessing upon blessing bestowed upon you beyond your grandest expectations. BH

1 comment:

  1. Very nice job Brad. You're an inspiration. Thanks!