No, I didn’t get “the award” again at my yearly class reunion in Tennessee this year! I am very thankful I did not. Each year, for the last few years, the Class of 1960 has given a Tough-Person Award to a classmate who has gone through a very tough time in the last twelve months.
Many of us go through difficult times—that’s life. But when my class gives an award, it is given to someone who has experienced a very tough time. For instance, one of my classmates, Irene, received the award for beating colon cancer for the third time; each time she had undergone chemotherapy. Now that’s tough!
One year, Ethel received the award after the death of her second husband who died of heart failure. Her first husband died of a brain tumor some years earlier. Ethel has gone through some tough times, yet she still has a smile on her face. Now that admirable!
Larry received the award last year while he was in the middle of a battle with lymphoma. He came to the reunion this year even though he was in severe pain and using a walker. After chemotherapy, Larry’s cancer is in remission. But his walker is still his constant companion, since the cancer caused 8 fractures in his spine before it was diagnosed and treated. So Larry is still in pain.
Larry says, “I’m making it. My walking is gonna get better.” Now that’s tough!
This year our class president Eddie asked who we thought would receive the award this year. I guessed “Judy” whose husband Willie had died less than a year ago. But Eddie said, “No, it’s Jane.” A few weeks previous, Jane broke her leg for a second time. After surgery, she got MRSA in her wound and almost died—her family was even called in. She will have to spend about 6 months in rehab. Very tough times for Jane!
Many of you who are reading this could probably compete for the Tough-Person Award. In 2006 both my husband Tom and I would have qualified—that’s when his wife Jeniece and my husband Ralph died. So if things are going relatively smoothly for you, maybe it is time to be thankful for the bad things that have not happened to you and to be thankful for the good.
Here are some statistics that I found that remind me of how blessed I am:
- If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.
- If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
- If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.
- If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.
Even in the midst of tough time, even after the death of someone we love, if we take time to look around, more than likely we can find something to be thankful for. Thank goodness, actually, thank God for his goodness, for good health, and the many blessings we enjoy every day! Maybe you, like I, can say, “I didn’t get the Tough-Person Award this year—thank You, God!”
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice 709 Liberty Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator