“I’m So Lucky”

At 95 years old, Gordon Mickelson is possibly the oldest fan of Love Is the New Currency. After being given a copy by his daughter, whom I’ve gotten to know through a mutual friend, Gordon asked her, “You know the author?  I would love to meet her!” When I agree to meet her dad, little do I know what a gift is in store for me.

With Gordon receiving hospice care, I decide that I’m not going to waste another precious day and opportunity for a visit, but I’m not sure what to expect as I enter the retirement community where he resides. Although unable to eat solid foods for the past two years, Gordon’s body is declining more rapidly these last few days since choosing to stop all sustenance, except water. There’s a sign on his door, “I don’t always hear your knock. Please come in.” I do, and that’s how I meet Gordon, a man who is engaging, happy, interested, and a total delight to be with.

Gordon is one of those people who has “never met a stranger.” We easily start talking as though we’ve known each other for years.

“I’m so lucky,” Gordon says as he relates stories of his life. “I was a farm boy and was lucky to be raised so close to the earth and nature. I grew up with two siblings and several cousins and we were lucky because we all loved each other.”

Gordon has enjoyed a life of adventure, traveling to 86 different countries. When I ask him, “What was a key moment in your life?” he tells me how privileged he was to be in the service and to be sent on a secret mission to Germany. There, he found himself in the presence of imposing and powerful historical figures: President Franklin Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired, as well as Stalin and Churchill. “I was lucky to have the right job at the right time.”

Gordon shares how grateful he was to have had a wife, whom he dearly loved, and a wonderful family.  “I’m so lucky. I’m even a great-grandfather now!”

Lying in a hospital bed, with only water to sip on, Gordon is emphatic that he doesn’t want to be kept alive artificially, “I wouldn’t do anything to shorten or prolong my life. When my body is ready to go, it’ll be time.”

And yet, he lights up when he talks about the beautiful flowers that his daughter has planted outside of his patio window and the bird feeder that attracts so many birds (although he can’t see them from where he lies).  He smiles. In fact, Gordon smiles almost the entire time that I’m with him.

“Gordon, it sounds like you’ve had a happy life. What do you attribute that to?” I ask. His face changes and he answers slowly. “It hasn’t always been happy. There were difficult times too. My wife had a hard time sleeping for a long time. It took a toll on her and she took her own life.” His eyes tear as he shares how much he misses her.

But moments later, he goes on to tell me how much he loves his family, how lucky he is to be getting the care that he is, and what a good life he’s had. He adds, “I think that the key to having a happy life is being grateful.”

It occurs to me that I’ve just heard the words, “I’m so lucky” said more times in a half hour than I typically hear in years. (I try going back and counting, but I quickly lose track.)

Gordon tells me how much he enjoys reading Love Is the New Currency. He is convinced that it’s an important message to get out in the world, and says, “I’m proud of what you’re doing and I would like to help you if there’s anything that I can do.” I thank him as I sign his book: “Gordon, I’m honored to know you.”

When I ask if I can come back to visit next week, he says with a smile, “Don’t even ask!”

And I walk away feeling, “I’m so lucky.”

 

Addendum:

I was fortunate to be able to visit Gordon four more times.  He always had so many friends and family surrounding him that it felt like a ‘love fest’ and I was grateful to be a part.

Gordon never complained about anything.  In fact, on one of my visits, he said, “I’m lucky that I was able to roll over on my side last night.  I slept better.”

I was always amazed at how interested Gordon was in others and in life.

On my last visit, he was listening to a book on tape…something about the cosmic consciousness. I asked him if he believed in a life after this one and he said, “I don’t know.”  He said that he was trying to be “an open door” as a friend had suggested.

“IF there is life on the other side, would you be open to communicating with me?” I asked.  “Yes,” he replied, “but I just don’t know.”

“Gordon, every time someone says, “I’m so lucky,” I’m going to think of you.”  He smiled and as I started to leave he said, “You are a beautiful person.” That was the last time I saw Gordon.

Gordon passed away a week later. There were 100 people at his “Celebration of Life.” I was honored to read this story at his service and in closing, we all said in unison “I’m so lucky” three times. I invited each person to not only carry Gordon in their hearts, but to share his message of gratitude.

I’m making sure that I hear and speak those words often. And I’ve been told that Gordon’s friends and family now have a new mantra:  “I’m so lucky!”

The above article was recently featured in Transformation Magazine.

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Comments

  1. MICHAEL DORFMAN says:

    Hi Linda,
    That was a very nice article. One point got me thinking about being lucky and being grateful. I’m not at all sure being “so lucky” is the same as being grateful. Very possibly one might need to believe they are lucky in order to move to the next believe: therefore I am grateful. (Grateful – appreciation of benefits received – Miriam Webster / Lucky – “A fortuitous chance of having good fortune.” – Wikipedia, abbridged.) Anyway, I enjoy that kind of thinking and analysis as it helps me understand who I am and where I wish to go as a man and individual.
    Actually the subject of Gratefulness has been a part of my thinking for the past few years. Over the past couple of years I’ve become increasingly aware of how immeasurably grateful I am, regardless of fluctuations life presents. Regardless! As a matter of fact in the past two weeks I’ve been waiting for a biopsy diagnosis regarding the apparent possibility of prostate cancer. I learned yesterday the questionable sample was benign. Yet what actually caught my attention while waiting for the results – and a possible profound shift in my life – was how relaxed and grateful I’ve been leading up to those results! I never missed a moment’s sleep nor allowed myself to wander down thoughts of drama and “What if?” scenarios. I simply feel felt and feel so lucky AND grateful for so many things – MY LIFE! Perhaps that’s what Gordon had as his “defense” against life’s dramas. Finally, with a twinkle in my eye… Does being/feeling grateful always suggest a belief in a Higher Power, something to be grateful to? Such fun! LOL
    Hope you’re in the same place!
    Hugs,
    Michael

  2. Hi Linda,

    What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it and pointing out how important it is to have gratutide for even small things.

    I’m so lucky; for so many belssings!!

    Namaste
    Dan Seluk

  3. Sylvia South says:

    Linda,
    How special to have my dad’s story posted on your website. I’m so lucky you’re my friend. You inspire me.
    Sylvia

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