Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Time for Thanks

Every year around this time, I take a few moments to think about the wonderful things in my life for which I am very thankful. This year the activity took on special significance because, 4 days ago, my mother suffered a cardiopulmonary attack (a heart attack coupled with respiratory failure) and has been in a coma since.

Not surprisingly, I immediately came home to be with my father who has been her spouse for 43 years and has been profoundly affected by this. What is surprising is that this isn't the first time she's been comatose. In fact, I jokingly say to anyone who will listen that my mother has cheated death so many times she probably owes him money or something. The last time, my mother developed a sudden case of bacterial meningitis and was unconscious for 11 days before waking up and, in her characteristic fashion, complaining that she didn't have her makeup and similar implements with her to avoid looking like a fashion nightmare.

The very wonderful Dr. Sam Leung, a close friend of mine who has a practice in Chinatown (and is not in any way providing medical care to my mother, who lives in South Carolina) once told me that, when you feel nothing is going right for you, you should stop and find (not "try to find") ten things that you can count as blessings in your life.

So here is my list of ten things:
  1. I am thankful for my mother, who has always shown me that it's not what you say but it's what you believe in your heart that counts. I haven't always practiced this, but anyone who knows her knows that she is the ultimate example to be followed in this regard.

  2. I am thankful for my father, who hasn't let this or the many other setbacks in life (whether Mom's medical maladies or other things) stop him from continuing to "get the job done," whatever that means at the time.

  3. I am thankful for my wife, who truly understands the importance of family. (Some would argue that she understands it better than I do.) While I was hesitating to try and figure out what I should do after receiving the news of my mother's condition, she gave me a swift kick in the ass and told me to pack up and go even though it meant that she would stay behind with our 2 year old daughter. (If my mother's condition deteriorated, though, rest assured that she would be on the first place to South Carolina with baby in tow.)

  4. I am thankful for my 10 year old daughter, Sara, who was looking forward to spending 4 days with my wife, her younger sister and I over the Thanksgiving holiday but has never questioned once the need for me to be here with my father. In fact, she has been extremely concerned over her grandmother's condition and has asked very pointed questions to try and understand the extent of the situation.

  5. I am thankful for the rest of my extended family and friends. It would be impossible to name them all here, but they know who they are. My father and I have been inundated at the house with phone calls from people around the world who are checking to see how I am holding up; how my father is; and obviously if there is any change in my mother's condition.

  6. I am thankful for my manager, Ed, who has reiterated on several occasions that it is good for me to be with my father given what has happened. Given the pressures that one has when they are in sales to meet their quota, it takes a lot for someone to say "that doesn't matter...go be with your family for as long as you need to be."

  7. I am thankful to have a job that provides a place to live; food to eat; and clothes to wear for my family. It is a job that allows me to work from home when possible due to the distance I am from my office. And I am surrounding by extremely capable people from whom I learn an immense amount on an almost daily basis.

  8. I am thankful to have musical talents that give me a means of expression that many others don't have. My two daughters have this as well: Sara plays the piano and flute quite well; and our 2 year old Piper will not walk anywhere in our house without a pair of drumsticks in her hand (full sized too!). She has a child's size drumset that she beats on constantly, and I am confident she will be quite good at it when she gets older.

  9. I am thankful that I am in good health and that my family is too, save for my mother's current condition. My father is 73 years old, and his mental faculties are as sharp as a razor's edge. If it weren't for him, my mother would have required additional help a decade ago.

  10. Most of all, I am thankful that God gave all of these things to me, and that I have never forgotten this.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Post-Mortem

I try to avoid religious diatribes. I recognize that religion is an intensely personal matter, and I can remember when people would canvas door-to-door, interrupting my family during dinnertime growing up.

I also try to avoid political discussions. In my opinion, people either take a "half interested" view of politics or are rabid fanatics of everything that goes on in Washington D.C., their states, and their locales. Politically induced rabies tends to induce blindness and a general lack of common sense in people too, which is the reason why I avoid it. (I'll leave my general loathing of politicians and the tendency of them in general to put personal interests above the good of the people; lobbying ['nuff said]; and related topics out of this discussion.)

Still, Tuesday saw the biggest swing in Congress since the 40's so it is my civic duty to comment: I'm glad it's over.

I realize that the Republicans felt the need to recapture Congress given the trouncing they experienced 2 years ago. And since they were neutered and unable to advance the agenda that they felt would best serve their constituents, this does have some degree of importance. And so I get the attack advertisements and general mudslinging since, in the modern day where Snooki's Trash Talking is considered "exciting TV," this is the only way to get people's attention.

Disclaimer: I'm not Republican or Democrat. When I registered to vote, I listed myself as "Conservative," which I suppose makes me closer to being a Republican than a Democrat but I am technically neither. I believe strongly in showing compassion to one's neighbor ("Love thy neighbor as thyself.") but also have a strong sense of fiscal self-responsibility that I firmly believe should apply to government as a whole.

Having stated my personal position and my understanding of the Republican Party's need to reclaim the majority, I will say that their behavior collectively over the past few years is despicable. It is one thing to wait for the other side to make mistakes that you can capitalize on during the next election cycle. But it is another thing entirely to sit back, criticize, aggressively block any Democratic action on the grounds that the Democrats are for it "so therefore we must be against it," and generally act like a 1st grader in the sandbox who is pissed at the schoolkid next to you because they started playing with the Tonka dumptruck that you were eyeing.

So I'm glad this is over. The country has suffered from Wall St. for sure, and I haven't been shy in lambasting the pigs in the Financial Services district (and that includes the shady mortgage dealers too) for bringing this country to the brink of ruin, but I expect better from a Congressional body that is supposedly elected "by the people and for the people."

Here's to the next 2 years, which will hopefully be better because Congress is able to focus on what they should be doing: representing the American People.