Octo Observations: Making a Joyful Noise!

A gorgeous October Sunday morning! Hoping you are doing something that makes you feel happy and grateful to be living on this beautiful planet: trees are changing colors: the nascent phase of Fall in Virginia. The air is humidity free. Crocks of mums have replaced begonias, and front doors feature Hallowe’en décor. I love this beautiful time of year…..a delicious respite from the sticky summer days that lingered too long.

Suddenly we feel ourselves come alive. Energy returns. More car traffic as people resume a semblance of normal life. No one leaves home without a mask, and no one fusses about the precautions that we must continue to take. After seven months, we have adjusted. 

Hopefully each day draws us closer to a Covid-19 vaccine. I say frequent prayers that all those who are afflicted with the virus, including our President and First Lady, our Governor and his wife, and myriad others, recover as quickly and thoroughly, thanks to emerging medicine.

Because my husband and I live in a long-term health care retirement facility, visitors have been forbidden. Stringent rules are gradually easing. With heartfelt thanks to our head nurse, we were granted permission for our four far-flung adult children to visit their dad and me this weekend. Of course, our “chickies” have stayed in a hotel but are allowed “on campus” to spend rollicking overdue time with each other and us. 

My husband has irreversible and debilitating health issues. Quality family time is rare. Covid-19 arrival last March cancelled our much-anticipated reunion celebrating his 85th birthday. So disappointing, as many grandchildren were planning to come, too. Obviously, not meant to be. And for sure, countless other families were and are similarly affected.

This gathering of the Nevin Originals, orchestrated by Virginia Beach Charley, was fabulous. All weekend I was reminded of Psalm 100….”Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord.” As a little girl tasked to memorize that Psalm for my Sunday School class. I succeeded and received a framed copy which has survived childhood, multiple corporate moves and more than six decades of marriage. It hangs in my kitchen for me to read each day. 

For those whose religious beliefs are marginal, I understand why, in today’s fractious climate, many people question the existence of God.  We are currently a divided country. The “BLAME GAME” plays hourly from all sources…with endless challenges here and abroad. The list is too long. People everywhere seem more eager to criticize than to praise. As a bona fide Octo, I want to yell loudly, “Life is a Gift…..it won’t last forever. TREASURE each day, try to make a difference: project kindness, courtesy, upbeat attitudes. Shouldn’t our words be measured by how they affect others…positively rather than negatively?

Looking at our Four Originals…now from Seattle, Boston, Connecticut and Virginia….I see a broad spectrum of believers…but if God seems missing in some lives, love is stronger than ever. And that makes it all work for me. God IS Love. No question. Such heartfelt love from our daughters and sons manifests itself in endless ways. As always, they wrap us in warmth. We laugh over ridiculous but hilarious stories. From Susie’s first and only speeding ticket and plea to the judge, Sam’s emergency stop en route to NYC city, Allison’s tales of her adorable little granddaughter, to Charley’s triumphant grin over trouncing older brother Sam on the golf course….and so forth.

My John lit up like a neon sign, “rose to the occasion,” ignored his ailments, and reveled in every minute with our kids, joined by Charley’s dear wife Steph and younger daughter on Saturday night. Thanks to tech savvy granddaughter Emmy Joy, I have a KEEP FOREVER picture of John. Totally spontaneous… a peaceful, loving expression on his handsome face.

Such occasions, sporadic for so many families these days, sustain us older folks. We count our blessings and realize that no matter what happens tomorrow, in November, or in the wide world around us, secure family bonds are unbreakable, It is okay to think and vote differently. It is okay to embrace different cultures. It is vibrant to have varied interests. Belief in oneself is a firm foundation for abundant love. Trust in each other supersedes all differences.

Is it possible for all Americans to come together? Is it possible for each of us to stop and think, “What can I do to make our country, our community, our work environment, our neighborhood better? What can I do to bring us back to the unity of spirit that we once felt?

A fractious spring and summer… triggered by Covid outbreak, George Floyd’s sad death, resulting in riots and protests, job loss, an angry election cycle and fear for the future….. has upended too many lives. Change in this country is coming…..but what form it will take is up for grabs. These days it feels we have strayed from old fashioned respect for the American Flag, for our core values, and for the true meaning of lives well led. 

Yet, throughout this divisive time, we have magnificent examples of courage, selflessness, bravery: the many health care workers who work tirelessly to save lives; the intrepid policemen who face possible death each time they go into a rioting city zone. To say nothing of the dedicated scientists who toil day and night to find an effective vaccine to STOP the spread of the virus….and to alleviate the anxiety of a fearful world.

Sharing a precious family weekend, even though dear members were missing, reminds me from head to toe that love is indeed the answer. Love negates differences of opinions. Love dispels all nastiness…..and if we can put aside politics/prejudice to let kindness and love into our lives, we will heal from the inside out. One hundred years from now, no one will care who won this election. However, our family descendants will remember through shared stories how their forefathers behaved and treated each other.

And if anyone in your family is elderly, beset by deteriorating health, promise me, please: reach out and let that person or persons know how special he or she is to you. Never ignore a chance to make someone else’s life a wee bit happier. Accentuate the positive and discard the negative.

Although not related by blood, I think of our neighbors in this cul de sac…..just the other day a dear couple who live across the street offered to take John and me to vote in person. “But it would be a nuisance for you. We have to take his wheelchair, as he can’t stand in line,” I replied….”No problem, Joy, we just want to help you both.” Ah me, how lovely.

An unexpected act of kindness like that means so much to John and me……and then there were the offers of parking spaces in cottage driveways when, for a short while, we had four cars to accommodate, and our driveway could only handle one. Our neighbors knew how much this weekend meant to us, and they shared our delight, too, by being extra thoughtful.

You get the point of this story, don’t you. You all know how to enrich someone else’s life…whether it is a family member or a neighbor or anyone who lives in your community. You and I know that it is in giving that we receive….and it is Love that triumphs over Hatred……

Albert Einstein, a man of incredible talent and endless intelligence, said:

Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

So true. Time to pour a cup of coffee and read Psalm 100 once again: “Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord, all ye Lands. Serve the Lord with Gladness. Come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” 

How grateful I am to be the wife of a man I have loved for almost all my life. Because of him, I am the lucky mother of four awesome human beings who brought immeasurable happiness to their aging parents this past gorgeous fall weekend. They and their children and grandchildren and millions of other like-minded families hold the future of this country in the palm of their hands…

I believe all will be well.

Joy Nevin is the author of Joy of Retirement – Live, Love, and Learn. Click to buy on Amazon.

Top photo: Bigstock

About Joy Nevin (61 Articles)
Joy Nevin was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, attended Connecticut College for Women for two years until she married John Nevin in 1957. Four children later, with twelve corporate moves in 20 years, the family learned flexibility. In 1990, with a nearly empty nest, Joy and John moved to Richmond, Virginia where they put down roots. Now in her eighties, Joy is the author of “Get Moving: A Joyful Search to Meet and Embrace Life Transitions” (2002) and “Joy of Retirement: Live, Love and Learn” (2015). Since 2016 she has written numerous articles for Woman Around Town on downsizing, moving to a retirement facility and her current series, Octo Observations. She is also a proud Grammy of nine, great grandmother of two…..AND forever grateful to Charlene Giannetti for supporting her passion for writing!