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.

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