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Extreme Gratitude in an Extreme Situation
Hospital + Doctors + Nurses + Healthcare is a sure-fire recipe for generating extreme gratitude!
This spring, my dad was suddenly brought to his knees when his auto-immune / neuromuscular condition reared its head. An extreme stituation to be sure! If you haven’t heard the story of how it unfolded, Grace shared it on Instagram a while back (May 25th to be exact!) and it went like this:
All journeys start somewhere! So let me set the stage for this one!
It’s Valentine’s Day. Tasty pesto meat sauce is baking in spaghetti squash dishes (inspired by recipes I found on @wholesomeyumblog and @eatwell101). A bottle of @smokingloonwine Old Vine Zinfandel is decanting. Chocolate. Roses. Candles. Music.
[queue the needle scratching across the record as the music abruptly stops]
Dotted throughout a perfect evening, Frank is on and off the phone with his brother and sister. But before you wag your finger at him, let me explain that his folks live 4340km from us and his dad, who has been the primary caregiver for his mom, is being admitted to hospital. His neuromuscular condition has come out of remission with a horrific ferocity, reducing this 85 year-old, strapping young senior into a weak mess who can barely keep his head up.
Somewhere between the time the spaghetti squash is served and dessert, Frank has booked a flight west with the promise he’ll be home for my birthday!
Fast forward several weeks. And sitting in the airport, the day before my birthday is not Frank, but me with a westbound ticket in hand.
And that’s how it all began – our journey into caregiving for our aging parents!
It’s a journey we’re still on and one we’re calling AGING AND MORE!
If that’s the first you’ve heard about our journey into caregiving for my folks – welcome! We’re happy you’re here! If you’ve heard about our journey before – welcome back!!
Recipe for Extreme Gratitude!
So, if you follow us (more specifically Grace) on Instagram @agingandmore you’ll also know that she is working on a personal goal this month of keeping a gratitude journal.
She has been sharing with me, some of the personal discovery and impact of keeping her gratitude journal. As she and I have talked this month, I have found my mind wandering to all the things that I am grateful for – and more specifically, the people! Extreme gratitude is what comes to mind!
Living through an experience like we did this spring, with a lengthy hospital admission reminds me of how exceedingly fortunate we are to have a healthcare system such as we do in Canada. I am acutely aware of the ongoing discussion about healthcare that is taking place to the south of our border and how truly blessed we are by socialized medicine!
Without the healthcare system, hospital, doctors, nurses and the many, many others that make our medical care possible, my dad would be in a different position right now. In fact, I am not even sure that he’d still be with us.
We are so unaware of what our medical care costs us, and yet if you think about the number of people, the resources, the infrastructure, the medications, the training, et al that go into a hospital stay, you can begin to guess at how quickly the costs add up.
Even now that my dad is home, he is still benefiting from our healthcare system. A support worker coming into his home a couple of times a week, a diabetes clinic outpatient team that supports his changing insulin needs, specialists, lab tests, medications and on and on.
No Words to Express Extreme Gratitude
By definition gratitude is:
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Its synonyms include: gratefulness, thankfulness, thanks, appreciation, indebtedness; recognition, acknowledgment, credit.
They say that gratitude is a posture of the heart. But by this definition above, it would seem to include a readiness to act – to show appreciation and to return kindness. I believe it is more than just a posture of the heart. It is more than just a feeling or a thought. It involves action.
As I reflect on what gratitude is and all that I feel with respect to my dad’s care and those who have helped bring his health back to a manageable level, I am left with no words to express the extreme gratitude that I feel. It is truly a quality of being thankful. But I think there is something much more to it than just feeling thankful. I have to take action on that thankfulness. There is an extreme-ness and extra-special-ness to what is in my heart.
The Art of Gratitude
Grace shared something with me that she read on Bible Gateway earlier this week. It is called the The Art of Gratitude
At the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, leper colonies as we know them today were unheard of. Unfortunates suffering from that dread disease dwelt in caves or huts outside the walls of city or village, usually in squalor and misery. Even their shadow must not cross a wayfarer, and the cry that branded them was the one terrifying word, “Unclean!”
One day Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem and were traversing the road which was the shortest route from Galilee. It led them through Samaritan territory. Prejudiced Jews often preferred the longer, Trans-Jordan route rather than have any dealings with the Samaritans. But Jesus very often travelled the shorter route. This day as He and His disciples no doubt conversed together while they walked, they were conscious of the hush of the great out-of-doors, with only perhaps the soft pad-pad of passing mules or camels, or perhaps the far-off cry of an eagle.
Then suddenly as they neared a Samaritan village a piercing cry rent the air as ten lepers emerged in the distance and the pleading wail met their ears: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” It may be that someone had told them that Jesus was coming that way. If only they could reach the road as He passed they might feel the power of His healing. Jesus never refused a plea.
When Jesus met them, He gave them a first lesson in faith in the form of an act of obedience: “Go into the village and show yourselves to the priest,” was His command. And as they went, the surge of healing within them quickened their pace. The nine sped on to health and liberty; the one, a Samaritan, halted to praise, and with the praise came the desire to retrace his steps to say thank you.
It took time to come back. It always takes time to be grateful. But gratitude is a virtue, for it helps the one who is thanked, and sends unconscious rays of healing into the mind and heart of the one who gives it.
Gratitude Moves Us to Return Kindness
Isn’t that interesting. It always takes time to be grateful. It involves action that comes out of the posture of our hearts and moves us to return the kindness.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
So as I ponder my gratefulness, I am left trying to figure out how best to express it to those I feel gratitude towards. Words do so little to convey the extreme gratitude that I feel. I’ll keep working on putting together my expression of gratitude to those who helped see my dad through this most challenging and difficult time. The least I can do is to return kindness to them!
How can you express #extremegratitude in your life? I would love to hear how you take action on your gratitude!
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. – Melodie Beatty
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