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March 14, 2011


The other morning, I was talking to my daughter Nikki on the phone. It was early evening in Thousand Oaks, California, where she lives. In a few minutes, she would be leaving with her husband Jed to go across the street to Anita's house—to bring her a bowl of hot noodles from the Philippines, or maybe something Nikki had cooked for their own dinner, which they were going to share with Anita. In her house, Jed and Nikki would stay for about an hour and a half, visiting with her, listening to her stories and reminiscences about her life as a young girl in the old country until the war came and she married an American and moved to the United States. Anita's second husband passed away a couple of years or so ago, and last year her only son Eddie, passed away as well, leaving her completely alone in the house across the street from Nikki's house. commit

Anita Hansen is 90 years old. She uses a walker when she moves around her house, her yard, or cross the street to Nikki's. She's 90 years old, after all. But guess what? She does housework, she gardens, she cooks (such delicious food! Nikki says) and she bakes cookies that Jonathan absolutely adored. And most of all, she still drives her car—to go shopping or to the supermarket, or wherever.

Still, Anita lives alone, and so, unless there's a compelling reason that keeps them from crossing the street to Anita's, Jed and Nikki visit with her in the early evening, and sit with her and listen to her stories about her life. Anita has grown to look forward to their early evening visit—their two chairs are ready for them to sit on when they come. And Jed and Nikki have grown to look forward to this part of their day that they share with a lonely old lady, realizing, to their surprise, that it wasn't so much that they were helping Anita from being too lonely as that they felt a sense of fulfillment in what they were doing, and they were actually helping themselves.

It's not a duty or obligation, Mom, Nikki tells me. It's something we like to do because we feel good inside that we're doing it, and we're actually happy that we're doing it.

I believe this is exactly what Karen Davila was saying about caring for something beyond ourselves. She was talking about her volunteer work and she feels and realizes that "more than the people I help... the person I help most is me."

I guess that's what making a commitment is all about—promising yourself to do something no one else is really asking or obliging you to do, but which you can make a promise (to yourself, to God, to other persons, or another person) to fulfill. And which commitment, once fulfilled, raises you to a level above self into selflessness.

So—have you made any commitments lately, or ever? It's never too late to start, of course. You can be 19 or 90, but it's never too late.

Someone on TV suggested one evening that we should try to put a little magic into our day. And, of course, magic is—magic! Well, last Wednesday, coming from speech therapy and getting into the elevator, there was this little girl with her Mom. She must have been about three years old. Very pretty, with a dimple on he cheek. I know, because the dimple showed when she smiled—and that's exactly what she did—she smiled at Vic, seated in his wheelchair and smiling right back at her. Most children (and even adults) stare at him because of his head surgery, or because he's in a wheelchair, but this little angel in a denim dress smiled right back at him, raised her hand in a little wave and said "Bye!" when her Mom told her to say goodbye as they got off on an earlier floor. And my wheelchair-bound husband whose head is always bent when we're in an elevator or anywhere that there are other people who sometime stare to the point of rudeness, he was looking straight at this tiny three-year-old, smiling at her and waving and saying goodbye to her.

And that was the magic that filled me all through the day and well into the night. As indeed we all should put a little magic into our life, every day of our life.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.

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