"You oughta be thankful
A whole heaping lot
For the people and places
You're lucky you're not"
Having just returned from a weekend with my nieces, my mind is flooded with memories of Sean as a young child. Not many people know this, but when Sean was an infant I was living in Florida and about as broke as broke can be. I'm not talking "no dinners out this week" broke. I mean "I have no money for diapers" broke. It was bad and lasted for several years. If not for my parents and Sean's grandparents we would have been in a much more dire situation for sure.
Raising a small child with very little money means you have to be creative regarding activities. Everyday, weather permitting, I took him to the park so he could play with other kids, but mostly it was just the two of us. Since I was only 19, I had no qualms about going down slides or riding a bouncy horse in public. We collected rocks to build fortresses for his toy soldiers and shot at each other with our finger guns as we hid behind trees. We both had very active imaginations! But by far our most treasured activity was reading. I would pack a stack of books and a blanket and we would go down to the lake and read for hours. Dr. Seuss was his favorite due to the sheer silliness and flow of rhymes. As a parent, I loved how each book helped a child gain a sense of themselves in the world. For that reason "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" is the one I most admire.
“Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance
To escape from the perilous pants eating plants
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I”
I thought about this book on the ride back and somehow managed to find it in the old book bin when I got home. What a powerful message it delivers! No matter the situation, always remember to focus on the positives in your life. Being poor sucked but without having that experience I might not appreciate all of the comforts I now enjoy. Currently, I often find myself playing the "what ifs" game. What if this treatment doesnt work? What if it comes back? When what I should be asking myself is "how lucky am I?" I have access to the best care in the world and a loving, supportive team surrounding me. Cancer is a bitch, no doubt about that. But, it has also delivered to me a great gift. The gift of clarity. Most people take years, if ever, to learn what I am now being taught. I've learned the importance of authenticity, how to love freely without fear, and, most importantly, forgiveness. I have forgiven myself for past mistakes and others for theirs. They say resentment is like drinking a poison expecting it to kill your enemy. Well, I have enough poisons coursing through my veins; I don't need to invite in any more.
So as I look back on raising Sean and especially our time in Florida, I do so with gratitude. Maybe if I had money then I would have put him in activities where I would not have had the opportunity to learn along with him. Because as much as I have taught him, he has taught me more and for that I am grateful...a whole heaping lot.