Julia was never happy and she couldn't understand why. From from the very beginning at the age of five, she remembered that the only time she ever felt a twinge of happiness was when her sister, Eileen was “unhappy.” But, in her mind that was alright because Eileen was always happy and always getting approval and praise from her parents…
So, in order for her to be happy, Julia looked for those who were, in her opinion, too happy and then did what she could to make them, unhappy.
After all, she thought, people shouldn’t be happy all of the time and didn’t she have a right to be happy?
And, considering that she had put up with such an obnoxious sister and parents who didn’t seem to know what was going on, why those were reasons enough to find a little bit of happiness in life.
And so it was on a beautiful fall day that Julia would find out the true meaning of being happy.
She had been attending a local college and as a requirement of her Social Work degree, she was to attend a local nursing home and do some volunteer work with seniors who were lonely and ill.
Her first initial responses to this request was, “Why me? Why do we have to do this? I don’t have time!”
Her Instructor, Jane Thurman, replied, “And, why not you, Julia? After all, this is part of your requirement for your degree, as it is for everyone in this class! You will do this assignment, or you will not pass! And, you might even enjoy it; why you might find that you will be happy doing it!”
“Humph!” she thought. “Happy, my foot,” she said under her breath…
Her first day at the nursing home was frustrating and she found herself becoming impatient with how slow they all were..
And then she met Roy Poundstone, a small, lonely but nice looking older man and he seemed so happy when she talked with him that she soon found herself feeling a twinge of happiness; at least she thought it was happiness.
He just seemed so needy, so desiring of someone’s company. When she found out that he had no one—his wife dead and family living over 1,000 miles away, why she began to feel something for the old man…
On her third visit with Roy, she found his room empty. She quickly went to the nurse’s station and found out that Roy had been taken to the hospital, ill with pneumonia.
An hour later she arrived at the hospital and was directed to his room by a kind, older nurse. As she walked into the room, she saw him lying in the hospital bed, with many tubes and machines monitoring his frail health.
She walked up to his bed and saw that his eyes were closed. She decided to touch his hand and when she did, he slowly opened his eyes and said, “Julia! You’re here!”
At that moment she realized what true happiness was--someone who cared and who was happy in her presence.
“Of course I'm here. How are you feeling?” His response was weak but happy.
“Not the best, dear but better now that you’re here.” His pale countenance was a preamble to what would happen next...
Seconds later, his eyes blazed with fear and he cried out, “No, please not now!” By the time the nurses arrived, he was gone..
As Julia held his hand, she now knew the true meaning of happiness but also the true meaning of sadness.
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