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Living the Good Life


When I talked to Marjorie on the phone, I heard a pleasant voice, tinged with humor.

“I can’t say I’m old…but I might be getting there.”

I laughed with her. How true that is. Old is a relative term. It used to mean 30 years old, but over the years I find myself adjusting the number higher. If I live long enough, I expect to define the term as someone over 120.

Marjorie was calling me from a tiny town in the Midwest, looking for some information I had given at a recent seminar. In this particular case, I happened to remember this town and knew it to be several hundred miles from my office.

“How did you wind up there?”

“Oh, I used to live near you, but I moved.”

And that’s when I found out about the call she received and her subsequent decision to live the good life.

By many measures, she was already living it. She had a prestigious job and the good pay and benefits that went with it. She lived in a secluded neighborhood and enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle.

There was only one small problem. Her parents were dying. Her mother had dementia, her father had a weak heart.

The small town they lived near had no real services to help. So she moved there.

“No matter how I looked at it, I could not bear the thought of not helping them.”

And as is true with many hard decisions, this one had some consequences. Her parents rallied under her care and lived years, not months. Long enough that Marjorie lost her husband to divorce and her connections in the business community.

She was diagnosed with cancer and survived. And she became estranged from her adult children, who chose the wealth of their father (he was a multimillionaire) over the small-town destitution of the mother.

It’s funny how much people will tell you if you take the time and have a genuine interest. “So, it sounds like you are living your life there, now.”

“Yes.” She sounded content. “I’ve made some friends here and belong to a church, I don’t have the money to travel back the city, but I’m not complaining, not at all.”

I could tell by her voice that she was, in fact satisfied with her life, but to make sure, I asked a follow-up.

“So, did you make the right decision?”

Her voice was serene and certain: “I absolutely did.”

Living a life of wealth and living a life of riches are different and unrelated phrases.

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“Gould’s newest offering, Heartland, is a thoughtful collection filled with meaningful musings, wit, and wisdom. Whether reading from cover to cover or just a page or two, the truths told are valuable life lessons.”