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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Rich Man, Poor Man - November 2020
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

One day a very wealthy father took his young son on a trip to the country for the purpose of showing his son what it was like to be poor.  They spent a few days and nights on a farm with a family who was considered to be very poor.

After their return home, the father asked his son how he liked the trip.  “It was great, Dad!” the son excitedly replied.

“Did you see just how poor people can be?” the father asked.
“Oh, yeah,” said the son.
“So what did you learn?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog, and they have four.  We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. “We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have stars at night.  Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. “We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight.  We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. “We buy our food, but they grow theirs.  We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.  Then his son added, “It showed me just have poor we really are!”  (The original author of this story is unknown.)

Too many times we do not realize what we have and concentrate on what we do not have.  During this Thanksgiving season, if you have experienced the death of someone you love, your perspective about life in general may be glum, and that is understandable.

When someone we love dies, our hearts may feel broken, our arms empty, and we may lack the energy to move forward.  It is not easy to deal with loss.  Our pain may drown our happiness, leaving us with a “glass half-empty” perspective rather than a “glass-half-full” outlook on life.

I appreciate the perspective of a good friend named Curtis from Iowa whose wife had died about a year ago.  I asked Curtis how he was doing, and he told me, “How can I be sad?  I had 60 years with her.”  Even though his wife’s death left a hole in his heart, Curtis was looking at his blessings of 60 well-lived years and his many wonderful memories with his wife.

We all have unique perspectives which may differ from someone else’s in a similar situation.  The father in the story above expected his son to see how bad it might be to have little money and live in the country.  Instead, the young boy focused on the many good things he saw the family in the country enjoying.

If you are struggling to find something to be thankful for during the Thanksgiving season, look around—inside and outside.  Are there gifts from nature in plain view?  Do you have a warm house, food, and a family who love you?  Do you have happy memories?

Sometimes the best things in life are right under our noses, and they do not cost money.  Socrates said, “He is richest who is content with the least….” 

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! 


Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator