I spoke to two important men in my life yesterday. Each of them is important for a different reason, but I love them both dearly.
The first is an old teacher of mine from junior high school. I know that seems strange. Why am I still in contact with someone who taught me geography when I was thirteen years old? I’m still in touch with him because he is a genuinely good person. When I was thirteen, he treated me, and a group of my friends, with respect. He always spoke to us as if we were human beings with brains in our heads. He listened to us. He challenged us. Most importantly, he taught us the value of working hard and he made us each feel special.
He called me yesterday because he needed his spirits lifted. He is in his early seventies and he has multiple health issues. Recently, his wife had a bad fall and was hospitalized. Her injury means that she won’t be able to move back into their home. That’s not good news for either of them. He’s not well enough to live alone and he doesn’t know if it’s possible for both of them to get placement in the same nursing or retirement home. He’s very sad and worried about that. I’m very sad and worried for him.
To take his mind off his troubles he called to see how I’m doing. He had it in mind that I already had my big surgery. When I explained the complicated path I’ve been on, he responded with something I didn’t expect. He wanted to know how I was managing to stay so positive with everything that’s been going on over the past few years. I answered without hesitation, “I have no choice”. If I weren’t positive, I would fall apart. If I weren’t positive, who would he be able to call to have a good laugh with? We did laugh. By the time we hung up I got him to promise to call me more often to let me know how he’s doing and to try to eat more than he is so he can keep his strength up to go for the daily walks he loves. He made me promise to call him more often so he knows that I’m thinking about him. That was an easy promise to make. I called him this afternoon to make sure he ate something today and went for his walk. Then we found a few sad things in both our lives to mock and laugh about. We ended our conversation as we usually do with ‘I love yous’.
The second of the important men who called me is an adoptive uncle. He’s been part of my life on and off since I was about 10. He’s one of the people I’ve felt guilty about having in my life because of how my mother’s relationship with his brother ended – whom, by the way, I still consider my stepfather. My uncle called to see how I am. He was very apologetic because it’s been about a week since we last spoke, and he felt the conversation had been too short. He also feels that he hasn’t been supporting me enough. I had to stop him from believing that. I told him how lucky I feel for him and all the other people I have – including my growing online community – in my life who show me love. He told me that I’m wrong. He said that luck has nothing to do with the love I have in my life. He said that the love I have in my life is a blessing.
I had to agree with him. I do feel blessed. I am blessed because he never gave up on having me in his life even though I am not his brother’s biological child. He was one of the first in his family to come to my aid when he learned about my illness. He has demonstrated that he is willing to drop whatever he’s doing at any time to help me. He is my family more strongly than many of whom I’m related to by blood.
These two important men in my life are blessings. Just receiving phone calls from them makes me feel loved. Those phone calls have been added to the huge pile of blessings I feel building in and around me.
Avril Lavigne – Keep Holding On