When it comes to building legacies in Snohomish County, Sister Georgette Bayless, 90, is a giant.
From her small frame comes enormous energy. She founded Providence Hospice and Home Care. Not content with that, Bayless went on to help create the Providence Sexual Assault Center.
Back in 1976, she told The Herald she hoped the future would bring less emphasis on machines and more on humankind.
A few weeks ago, she told The Herald that, “Life is still going on, and I am becoming. It’s a pleasure. It’s a gift.”
She’s 90, retired and battling Parkinson’s disease, but at no loss for words.
Bayless made time to answer the questions Karl Pillemer suggests asking seniors in his book, “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice From the Wisest Americans.”
The conversation took about half an hour and when it was over, Bayless was grateful for the “opportunity to review some of those instances in my life that I’ve forgotten.”
Ask some of the wisest people in your life these 10 questions to hear what advice they may have.
What are some of the most important lessons you feel you have learned in the course of your life?
I’ve learned most of it in the tag end of my lifetime. I spent my life learning, learning, learning, now I’m just putting it all together.
One of the most important lessons is: You can do so much good if you don’t care who gets the credit. You’re not looking to get credit, you’re looking to do good and whoever gets credit is fine.
That came to me in college and it really stuck with me. I use that as one of my mottos.
What kind of advice would have about getting and staying married?
First is to know the person. Know the qualities both good and bad — the fine qualities and all the little foibles they have.
Then make up your mind and stick with it. If there’s some disagreement … get it on the table and not hide it. You open it.
What kind of advice do you have about raising children?
A mistake would be trying to give everything to the child so the child has no wants, no problems or no difficulties. Satisfy the child to the Nth degree would be an overkill. You need to realize that they need to … put up with some difficulties. Life isn’t a soft trip. There’s troubles that come into everybody’s life.
If the children don’t learn how to deal with these problems early on it would be very difficult for them when they get older, get married; they can’t deal with interpersonal relationships; their parents could have taught them.
Do you have any advice about finding fulfilling work and how to succeed in a career?
To find fulfilling work you need to decide what you want. “What is this going to be in my life?” — and then go after it, do the best you can in this chosen field.
Sometimes you may need to make a change, or someone makes a change for you, so be it. Deal with the changes.
Deal with the changes inside and outside, how you feel about the situation and what the choices are out there.
Some people say they have had difficult experiences. Is that true for you?
You have all evening? … I picked up my energy and went out and did things.
What are some of the important decisions that you made that you have learned from?
I made a mistake and it was noted as a mistake. It didn’t help my position there at all.
Don’t be impetuous. Think about what these decision are going to mean, the outcome of each decision. Weigh the consequences.
What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were 20?
Get your work done. Don’t be such a scatter brain. Attend to detail.
I’m a dreamer, don’t bother me with detail. I want to do everything at once.
What are the major values or principles that you live by?
Our motto “Charity of Christ” urges us. It is love that is a mainstay. I wish I could love more. There’s so much … I could be doing.
Seeing the elderly, talking with them, getting them to talk, spending time with them.
Looking for ways to be kind to people. I like that word: kind. Even if nobody sees you, if you make up your mind to be kind to people, that’s enough.
Have you learned any lessons about staying in good health?
Yes. I’m trying to think of what I’m doing with Parkinson’s. I have good medical advice. … I don’t exercise. I don’t eat proper meals. I’m doing better at those.
I haven’t led a major healthy life. … (Still, at 90…) Something must be good.
What advice would you give to people about growing older?
I would say, all of us are growing older. All of us each day.
One of my mantras was, “You’re different today then you were yesterday. You’ll be different tomorrow than you are today. You are always changing, you are always growing.”
So, take care of yourself and realize that there’s only one you, so take care of you, in the way you feel is best for you. If you care for yourself, really care for yourself, you’ll be caring for other people also. You don’t exclude other people when you’re caring for yourself, if you do, you’re not really caring for yourself. You need to figure that one out.