The 83 year old patient pointed his finger at Sr. Wantabee’s nose and vehemently said, “I’ve learned you gotta stay happy!” Catholic born but not one for church, his story gradually unfolded. His leg had just been amputated below the knee due to cancer. His first wife was diabetic and had bumped her foot, ignored it until the pain was too great. She finally went to the doctor and agreed to an amputation to relieve the pain. The operation went well and they parted for the evening. The next morning he arrived and greeted her, “Hello Sweetie!” No response. She had suddenly died as the nurse had just seen her alert. So he was a bit skeptical coming in for his operation.
He married a younger woman a year and a half later and raised his son and her children. Somewhere in the story he broke his back in the early 60s and so was animated that he had never earned more than $3 in his lifetime but he had made it!
He couldn’t work but had a 30 acrea home, had a golf cart he could climb into off his porch and travel his home, hunting and caring.
He had a long history of operations, successful bouts with cancer, miraculous cures and healings but now he, too had hurt his foot and was forced to adopt a three wheeler and now an electric wheel chair. But without his leg, how would he function? How would he keep his wife happy and busy? Maybe he should just cash in his chips! No, you gotta stay happy to have the strength for tomorrow and he would.
Sr. Wantabee gently probbed him about his faith journey during this times and how faith shored up his happy attitude but those comments were deflected. He did agree to prayer. As she left the room, she glanced back and thought she saw a man fighting the tears that happiness could not hold back. Is happiness truly an act of the will she wondered.