Despite the tragedy of FTD and the impact it has on my family and me, I try to feel “gratitude.” I’m speaking to anyone with FTD out there that might be reading this blog. You, as an FTD’er, may be asking yourself, “what in the world do I have to be grateful for? I’ve been struck by a horrible disease and daily life is so hard to get through.” Gratitude is a simple act. I have found that being grateful, even for small things, is a great up lifter.
There are many days where I feel angry about having been cursed by FTD. “Why did this happen to me?” “What did I ever do, that would bring this horrible disease into my life?” “Is this ‘payback’ for something I did to someone or something?” Oh yeah, I used to question my situation almost on a daily basis. Where did it get me? Feeling sorry for myself. Then, the self talk would continue. “That’s it; go ahead and make yourself worse by slamming yourself for something that you didn’t cause. You didn’t ‘do’ anything that brought this into your life, the life of your family and the lives of your friends.”
But, there are days when gratitude slides in to my thoughts and feelings. Personally, I am grateful, on a large scale for my wife, Patty, my girls, Tara and Ashley, my granddaughter, my sister, Claire and, believe it or not, my mother-in-law, Elaine. I am thankful for the numerous friends that have come into my life. I am even more grateful for those friends that weather the “FTD storm,” with me and my family. I am also thankful for the wonderful work I did for my community for 24 plus years helping children. I am thankful for the reputation I established as a successful lawyer. I am thankful for being considered, in the words of a country song, “the type of friend that a friend would want to have.”
I had a few “thankful” experiences yesterday. For example, my six-year-old granddaughter, Ally, is very creative playing by herself. Yesterday, she was “”Madam Allison, the psychic.” In the kitchen, she set out a box with the name, “Madam Allison” on it. Then, she took two of my stone carvings I picked up at some store because I like stones. She used them as her crystal ball. Then, she took a toy baby’s blanket and put it on her head to complete her set up. Thereafter, she would ask her mom, Tara, Grandma and me questions about various things for the future. So, we’d go along with it and she’d do her “magic” and forecast the future. Her joy and happiness made me feel good. In other words, I was grateful for her inner beauty and the joy she received from her playing and that I received from watching her.
I’m grateful for the gift of looking at my beautiful wife and thinking about our 36 years together (the good times and the not so good ones). She’s as beautiful to me as she was the first time I laid eyes on her. WOW!
I’m thankful for the two beautiful girls I helped bring into this world. They are compassionate, giving, women with beautiful hearts. As a dad, I could go on and on about their qualities. But, simply, I’m grateful I have them in my life.
Then, yesterday I spent a portion of the day with “B.” She is my de facto sister. She knows me inside and out. She’s been with me during some of my worst times. She’s always been there for Patty. She’s one of our “rocks,” upon which we lean in bad times. She is definitely not a fair weather friend. I’m grateful for the few hours I spent with her yesterday.
At this moment, I’m listening to Emmy Lou Harris singing, “One Of These Days.” I reminds me of good days from years ago; plus, I just love her music, voice and the talented musicians playing on that song. You see? Nothing big, nothing important; just a song that makes me smile and think of fun times (i.e., grateful).
There’s nothing complicated about any of these things for which I am grateful. They are simple things that just are what they are. But, for them to be, for you to experience them, you must “see” them in your life and feel them.
Give yourself the “gift” of gratitude. If it’s a difficult thing to do given the extent and depth of your situation and your pain, remember to try later. It might take some effort, given the negative feelings you are experiencing. There are many, many times I can’t pull the “gratitude rabbit out of my hat.” But, when I am able to do so – wow – it sure is a gift, an escape (even momentarily) from our worlds of being “FTD’ers.”