Her name is Sadie and her lesson comes to us from my long-time friend Kathy Basso, who was Sadie’s friend in the early 1970’s.
“Each week, I really looked forward to being with Sadie,” said Kathy. And as Kathy spoke, her voice filled with joy and nostalgia as 34-years slipped away and suddenly it was as if Sadie had come into the room to speak with us.
Sadie’s story begins in early December, 1972 when Kathy, a high school senior joined 14 other high school choir members to visit an assisted living facility and sing Christmas favorites to the senior citizens who lived there.
Each week until Christmas, the choir was to arrive at 2 pm, sing four songs and briefly socialize with the residents to uplift their spirits.
By 3 pm the choir was to say good-bye but the enthusiastic discussions between the old and young people often lasted until 5 pm, when the choir director kindly suggested it was time to go, so the senior citizens could have their dinner.
But the weekly sessions became so popular the choir kept coming long after the holiday season ended. “Sadie and I really got connected,” Kathy said. “When she was young, she had been a successful vaudeville dancer and she had many pictures and trinkets from that time. And as she would show me a picture or a trinket, each one came with a story.
“She was so happy and proud of her accomplishments in vaudeville,” said Kathy. However, as Sadie grew old, life was not easy for her. “She was paralyzed from the waist down,” added Kathy.
This confined Sadie to a wheel chair. As the years passed, the trim athletic dancer she had been grew to weigh about 400 pounds and she needed help getting in and out of her wheel chair and her bed. Her husband had passed away many years earlier and at this time in Sadie’s life, there was no-one to come visit her.
“When I arrived,” said Kathy, “You could see the smile in her eyes. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree on Christmas morning. She sparkled.”
And they grew even closer after Sadie had a stroke. Haltingly, Sadie could still speak and her mind remained sharp. Kathy would sit alongside her and hold her hand as they spoke together.
It was then that Sadie shared with Kathy one of life’s greatest lessons, a lesson that Kathy used to change her life and it is a lesson that could change your life today. What is it?
“Do what it is that makes you happy,” said Sadie. “Don’t let money get in the way, for money can never make you happy with yourself.”
“Until then,” commented Kathy, “I wanted a Gucci handbag. I wanted a new car. I wanted to be the most popular girl in my high school. Then I realized none of these things would make me truly happy. And I changed my priorities.
“My life was never again driven by the things money can buy.
“Today I have a job I thoroughly enjoy, I have a family and close friends who I deeply care for and who deeply care for me. And I give freely of myself, for that’s how I want others to treat me. And I do what is meaningful to me, such as helping others. That may be my main calling in life.”
And I can tell you from personal observation; Kathy is a very happy, upbeat person who is a joy to be around. This has made her immensely popular, to the point that if she was still in high school, she would be the most popular girl there.
So what became of Sadie? One February afternoon in 1973 when Kathy arrived to visit Sadie, she walked into her room and it was empty. As she turned to a nurse, the nurse with tears in her eyes hesitated to speak, and then she said, “Sadie passed away this morning.”
After a moment of silence, in a soft voice the nurse added tearfully, “This whole place is in a funk. We miss her so much.”
And as Kathy shared this story with me, for an instant she and I fell silent, saddened by Sadie’s loss. Finally I asked Kathy, “Aside from that profound advice, did Sadie influence you in any other way,” and as Kathy replied, I heard the passion come back into her voice.
“I saw that sparkle in her eyes and I heard the joy in her voice when she talked about vaudeville,” said Kathy. “And even though she never made a lot of money, she was so proud of what she had accomplished in her craft and for the happiness she had brought to many others.
“I try to bring that happiness to others as well.”
And then with a big smile and in a wistful tone in her voice Kathy added, “I was really blessed to have her in my life.” And thanks to Kathy, today so are you and I.