Lemons to Lemonade – A Shout-Out to Alan

So I haven’t written in a while…life has gotten crazy and I’ve spent my time elsewhere. I’m ready to get back into the swing of writing here, and I think this is a nice way to start.

When things aren’t as we hope, we are told to “make lemonade” out of the “lemons” that life gives us. I know I often forget to do so. Caught up in the small annoyances of life, I personally catch myself complaining more often than I’d like to. The last few months, I’ve been given a truly awesome example of how to make the best of life, even when it gives us less.

As I’ve mentioned before, I spend Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons during the summer at a local nursing home, running bingo with my sister. The residents are primarily elderly, as you’d expect, but occasionally there are a few that are there temporarily for therapy or recovery. Such is the case with *Alan. I met Alan when I came back for the summer. In his mid-fifties or so, Alan had been admitted to the facility for recovery after suffering an accident which broke both his legs.

When I first met Alan, my first thought was, “Wow, that sucks.” The breaking-both-legs thing sucks too, but what I thought of first was being stuck in the nursing home. I love the residents, but I can’t imagine living there, especially being far short of being elderly. I began to imagine terrible dining-hall food, boring activities, and having to sometimes interact with fellow residents who are temperamental or otherwise difficult to talk to, as many of them can be. I saw Alan, and I just felt bad for the guy.

Turns out, I felt much worse for Alan than he did for himself. Since the beginning of the summer, Alan has become a source of inspiration for me. Twice a week, I watch a man truly make lemons out of lemonade.

When I first arrived home, Alan was using a walker to get around. Despite having major damage to both legs, I saw him abandon his walker countless times to push wheelchairs, open doors for residents, and even haul chairs into the bingo room to help set up, always with a smile. He even takes care of the resident cockatiels.

Instead of trying to separate himself from the “actual” residents, as some might be inclined to do, Alan has embraced living at the nursing home. He never misses a bingo session, and we can always find him at the back table, where he sets himself up with a pitcher of sweet tea. Across from him he sets an extra spot with bingo cards and tea for *Lila. The two have become bingo pals, and since Lila’s sight can be shaky, Alan checks his cards as well as hers to make sure she doesn’t miss any bingos. He gets pretty excited when she wins.

During bingo, Alan brings fun to the monotony that can be bingo. He cracks jokes with the residents, and gets excited for the winners. Alan makes the residents smile.

Alan is a daily reminder to me of how much perspective and attitude affects our experiences. There is no such thing as negative circumstances, just negative feelings.

When life gives you lemons, if you’re Alan, you make sweet tea, and then share it with your new friends over some bingo.

I want to be Alan.



*Names changed


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