Having a blog named “weird weekends” makes it difficult when you want to share something more than just “weird” stuff you do. This week I have been thinking a lot about being thankful and gratitude. I am not sure that I have anything really profound to say but I want to write out my thoughts anyway. (if this bores you I will share a couple of pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner and you can skip the words)
This Sunday a thought… or maybe more of a question came to me. My inner dialog quickly dismissed it with “of course” as an answer… but often when you are less than truthful with yourself the question never really goes away. Here is the question:
“Am I really thankful?”
I am not sure that I appreciate everything that I have or that I show the appropriate amount of gratitude for all that I am blessed with. How many things do I take for granite and accept as normal instead of recognizing how truly wonderful things are for me.
I want to share two experiences that have lead me towards these introspective thoughts. One happened Sunday and the other Thursday at thanksgiving. I will start with Thursday first.
At the thanksgiving dinner my step mother asked the children to tell her what they were thankful for. Ben my youngest started with his iPad. I think he recognized that we were waiting for something “better” so he ran upstairs and brought down his favorite stuffed animal. My older kids laughed because they have been around the thanksgiving table more than once and knew that there were “expected” answers. Ben then stated…”My family” and everyone in a subtle way congratulated him for saying what was expected.
I stopped myself and wondered why can’t he be thankful for the ipad or his stuffed animal… Why did we react to his first two responses that way? Did we just teach him to be unappreciative? Should we not be thankful for everything even the superficial?
Sunday brought back memories from a year ago. (can’t believe it has taken me an entire year to really ponder and try to learn from this experience) About a year ago a neighbor needed help… not just a one time help… but the every week for an undermined amount of time kind of help. Her husband had brain cancer and after surgery needed volunteers to come twice a day and help him “stand-up”. Luckily (boy am I not horribly selfish) I live in a fantastic neighborhood and we had many volunteers which meant that I only had to go once a week.
I remember the first time I went to help. I didn’t have feelings of charity. I was kind of annoyed (this is embarrassing to admit). I had to stop what I was doing (probably something very “important” like watching tv) and walk all the way across the street. His bed had been moved into the living room. We helped him sit up and then pulled him up into a standing position. He held that position for about 15 seconds and then it was over… he was totally exhausted. I remember thinking… hmm this isn’t so bad as I walked home after spending a total of 2 minutes (I think I can time this during the commercials and not miss anything “important”).
I continued each week with these “standups” and things started to change. First of all, I began to see the standing times last longer and longer. I joked to the family that they should write down the times to see “who was helping the best”. (I was only half joking) Not only was he standing longer but he began taking small steps. Each week I was excited to see how many steps my neighbor (now friend) could take… I of course talked about this often at work and I told all of my friends that I was kind of a “miracle worker”. I honestly looked forward to each visit and they seemed to become too short… (I found myself even stopping by with silly excuses like dropping off a moochies sandwich… )
One day we reached a huge milestone (he walked from the living room to his bed room). I think I was just as excited as he was and then he said something to me that I can’t forget. He said “you know this is the first time in two years that something in my body has gotten “better instead of worse”. He was so grateful for this… he was still in pain… still dying… but he showed only gratitude. Unfortunately he died several months later. I honestly miss my “stand-ups” with him. Initially I had no idea how fortunate I was to be invited to be a part of the last moments of his life and how sweet those memories would become to me. Most of all… I wished I would have thanked him… I wished I would have been “thankful”.
Sunday his widow talked about him and her experiences. She stated that it had been more then 800 days since they first found about the illness and everyone of those days she has cried. She said that she cried because she was depressed, angry, hopeless, scared… then she said “of all of these tears I have cried…90% of them I have cried in appreciation for the love and support I have felt”. She went on thanking God and everyone. Wow… these words made me rethink gratitude and my attitude… Am I truly thankful?
Thank you (I am saying this earnestly not ironically) for reading my post and for posting wonderful things for me to read and enjoy…