When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

I met a man my age recently who, about a year ago, got married for the second time in his life; his first wife, whom he’d been married to 39 years, passed away seven years ago. It wasn’t difficult to tell that he was quite passionate about his new bride, that he loved her a lot. The problem, though, was that he felt blindsided by the unexpected circumstances that had completely changed their living arrangements—their “deal,” so to speak, the vision he’d had of what their life was going to be like.

You see, his wife’s daughter, 34, suffered an unforeseen tragedy, a terrible automobile accident that left her permanently incapacitated and unable to care for herself; so, naturally, Mom came to the rescue and moved her into the house with them. What choice did she have? This was her only child, her baby, who needed her more now than ever. What choice did her new husband have? To say no would have meant the end of the marriage. There were those pesky vows he had made, too; not easy to ignore vows like that, is it? Not if they mean something to you. Not if your own character means something to you.

Still, he was torn apart by this new “deal” that had been thrust upon him. It wasn’t what he had signed up for. He went back and forth, trying to decide what to do. His despair was palpable. “What do you think I should do?” he asked.

“Only you can make that decision,” I told him.

“Yeah, I know,” he said, “but I just don’t know what’s the right course of action. I don’t know if I can be happy under these circumstances; and if I’m not happy, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to make either my wife or stepdaughter happy, y’know?”

I commiserated with him; he was in a tough spot. Life had given him a bucket of bitter lemons.

I wish I could tell you that he’s decided to stay, that he’s going to make it work no matter what it takes, no matter what he has to do, that character wins out, but the jury is still deliberating on that one. I’m praying for him, for all three of them. “What man supposes, God disposes,” the quotation goes.

Many decades ago, before I was married, I had a bachelor apartment, and in that apartment I had a corked wall with many pithy sayings. One of them said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It became one of my favorites; one I’ve leaned on many times, because life has certainly tossed me a few curves over the years. I proffered it to the man I’ve written about above, and I hope you’ll keep it in mind when life smashes you with a raw deal. The cliché is “There’s a silver lining in every cloud.” Right! There’s a way to turn every adversity into a win, if you’re smart and courageous enough.

So…I hope you’ll find a way to make lemonade, when life gives you lemons. It can be done; and sometimes it’ll enable you to find an even better life than the one you’d  previously envisioned.