Grandma’s absentmindedness concerned the retirement home staff. She was forgetting to come to meals and rarely left her room. It was when she turned her stove on high and forgot it, that they suggested she move. Now I was boxing the few items she could take with her and moving her to a much smaller place with less freedom and more care.
We talked while I packed. We reminisced about her tough years as a single mom during the Depression, scooping ice cream during the day and squishing grapes during a night shift in a winery. Eventually she moved back to her hometown, married again and worked even harder as a farm wife.
Moving into the tiny room was depressing—just enough space for her favorite rocker and the curio cabinet hanging near the single bed. I tried to make it homey. I placed her large print Bible on the nightstand. Perhaps it would give her comfort.
She used to begin every day with God. Now what? Would she even remember Him? I hoped so. I looked at her well-worn hands and her eyes that had gone dim. I made a pledge to make every day of my life count.
YOLO—You Only Live Once. This isn’t a new concept. It’s about living for now, not waiting for later. It might be somewhat selfish, but why not stretch the limits when you’re young—because eventually, if you live long enough, it comes to a room like this. I was suddenly weary. I doubted Grandma ever had a YOLO kind of life. She never had the chance.
As Grandma sat in her chair in the tiny room, a tear slid down her cheek. She asked how long I’d be staying with her. I told her I was flying home soon. She said she’d be going home soon too. We both knew what she meant.
Grandma hadn’t lived a YOLO life; she’d lived a YALA life—You Actually Live Again. It’s a different mindset. She hadn’t just lived for herself. She lived for Jesus and it had opened a door that never will close.
Grandma had worked hard, loving those she cared for, and giving to those in need. It was never about YOLO. She had lived with eternity in mind. Even in hard times, she’d invested well—serving God by serving others. Her work became her joy. Joy became her work.
She had left a footprint here and made a heart-print in heaven. YOLO is temporary; YALA is forever. She knew the best was still ahead and this tiny room just meant she was closer than ever. I lost my weariness, because I realized that Grandma had chosen well. Yes, I hope to do the same.