… Emma put her hand on Emily’s shoulder. “Remember this always, my precious young one. Age is a state of mind….”
Part X: Remember the past, look forward to the future, live in the moment
Rising over the lower foothills, Emma steered the sleigh toward the heights of the High Atlas Mountains.
“Wouldn’t it be better to go around them?” asked Emily. “They look kind of tall.”
“Where’s the fun in that? And if you think they’re high… well… just wait. People once believed these mountains held up the sky.”
“Indeed, they did. There are many such legends in history. When you think about it, we’re investigating one of those legends… except ours isn’t a legend at all, is it?” Emma smiled, then let the GPS direct them to the next stop.
Emily read from the sign on the front of the building, “Walsh Center for Geriatric Care.” She turned to Emma, “What’s geriatric?”
“It means old. This is a nursing home for the elderly.”
“Hmm, why do you think we’ve been sent here?”
“What say we pop in and find out?” Emma led the way through the door and into a lobby area. Several people—some in wheelchairs, some with canes, some just shuffling along with their hand on the wall—made their way into what looked like a central meeting room.
In front of the room, a DJ played music Emily had never heard before. Some guy named Frank Sinatra was singing a song called My Way. Back in one corner, a few couples stood close together, dancing.
As the song ended, one gentleman stood and walked to the front of the room. He took the microphone from the DJ, then waited for the room to quiet.
“Okay, a couple of announcements. First, as you know, we lost two more friends over the past few days. I’ve received notes from their families about how touched they were by the baskets of letters we sent. So thanks to everyone for doing that.
“Next month, they will be a family day open house. Invite as many family members as you like. Some of us here don’t have many members left, so let’s share and get a big crowd here to make everyone remember we are all family.”
He paused a moment, pointing at a woman in the front row. “Betty has a few things to add.” He held out the microphone for her.
Betty rolled to the front of the room.
“Thanks, Bert. Now, for those of you interested, we have an outing planned for this summer to the beach. All I need is a list of names for those who are interested, and we’ll take care of all the special arrangements. Our bake sale was so successful this year we even have enough left over to double our donation to the Homeless Shelter. Now, how about we liven it up a bit with some more music and dancing?”
The group broke out into a round of applause and the sounds of Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World” brought more couples to the dance floor.
Emma tapped Emily on the shoulder, tilting her head for her to follow her back to the sleigh.
“So, what do you think?” she asked.
Emily looked up at her. “Well, I’ll tell you one thing. For a place full of old people, they certainly have a lot of life in them. I mean, dancing, planning trips, running bake sales to raise money. They have more energy than I do.”
Emma laughed. “And you know what else they have?”
“Another simple one that is key to a happy life and keeping the spirit of Christmas thriving.”
“So?” Emily said. “Aren’t you going to tell me?”
“If you think about it, you’ll figure it out.”
Emily stood next to the sleigh, looking back at the building. The sounds of more music playing and people laughing drifted to her ears. “They love to remember, don’t they? But they also have fun in their lives no matter what. And they still look forward to tomorrow…”
“There you have it, Emily. Their secret is quite simple. Like the two friends in Morocco, they know that age is a state of mind and they Remember the past, look forward to the future, live in the moment.”
Part XI: Be one of the few things worth remembering