“When life hands you lemons – you make lemonade.”  This ageless proverb has long served as a beacon of hope and comfort to grieving souls worn by life’s most complex and heart-wrenching difficulties.  Yet, at times, we have all found ourselves laughing over the simplicity of this deeply meaningful phrase.  When one stops to consider the deeper meaning behind the proverb, however, it is easy to identify many instances in which we all have taken life much too seriously and how believing in the principle behind this phrase has been so worthy of our understanding.  In any given week, we may experience car trouble, cellular phone troubles, bad weather woes or traffic snarls.  Each instance will leave us with the tendency to question why these things constantly happen to us.  But, in reality, we should stop to realize that everything happens for a reason and that reason may not ever be known.

Several years ago, I was having a bad day.  The weather was rainy and admittedly, I was not in the best of moods. I wanted to throw myself into a sound-proof room and scream over the unfair conditions of the day until my voice no longer allowed me to do so.  Angry with both the world and the conditions that had arisen on that late March morning, I walked in the rain to the leasing office of the apartment community where I lived.  As I was approaching the office, I noticed a 76-year old resident of the complex, a woman who was a retired worker for the Army Corp of Engineers, standing near the trunk of her vehicle, loading groceries into a cart.

She was terribly overburdened by complications of debilitating arthritis and could hardly walk from her vehicle to her apartment with her groceries.  I had seen this woman before but had never stopped to converse with her, nor had I thought to lend my hand to her.  Many of the complex residents would not help this woman as she seemed to have a poor attitude towards life and to them, acted as if she was angry over her situation.  At times, I too, found myself questioning her attitude towards life but on that particular day, I chose to help her and I will never again see life in the same fashion as I once did, as the result of my actions.

I walked over to the woman’s car, introduced myself and offered to carry her groceries for her.  She accepted my offering of help and upon my entering her apartment, I was overwhelmed by the condition of it.  The sinks were rust-colored and dirty.  The gray carpet was covered by the mounds of brown cat fur that the woman’s cat had shed.  I could not believe how anyone could live in such a condition.  However, instead of judging this woman for her living conditions, I sat on her sofa and offered her my assistance.  I talked with her about her family and learned that her only son had abandoned her when he was twenty-four years old and that she had not heard from him since.  We discussed her cat, her love of flowers and other simplistic things for about an hour.  It was then that I realized this woman was neither strange nor mean, but someone who was lonely, in pain and in need of love.

In light of our discussion, I offered to clean her apartment. I knew it would be a task that would likely take several days to complete, but it was something to which I never gave another thought.  So, on a Monday afternoon, I loaded my vacuum cleaner, a bucket and some cleaning supplies into a wagon and headed to the woman’s apartment for the most complicated cleaning detail of my life.  After every room I cleaned, I asked the woman if she wanted me to continue and with every room, I saw her smile become larger and larger.  After sixteen hours of non-stop cleaning, over two days, the task was complete and the apartment looked as fresh as the day that my newfound friend had moved to it.

I am not certain where my life would be now had it not been for that March rain shower.  That day in the rain and the events that followed proved to me that everything in life happens for a reason and that within each individual is a sense of goodness.  Sometimes that sense is masked due to pain, anger or some other entity, but it is there within each and every one of us.  I took from that rainy day a friendship that lasted to the woman’s death in 1998 and an appreciation for persons in pain that will last me a lifetime.

So when life hands you a lemon, you can either toss it aside and wait for an apple or you can take life as it has come to you and make a glass of lemonade to share with others through the positive light and influences that you emit.  The gift of giving always finds a way to give itself back to you – a thousand times over and only you have the ability to decide which path is best.

© 2004 – Jill Eisnaugle – All rights reserved.

Jill Eisnaugle is the author of “Coastal Whispers” – a book of inspirational poetry written to soothe the heart and soul. She resides in Texas City, Texas with her family and pets.