Counting Blessings...

Submitted by ANGELnWard14 on Sat, 12/03/2011 - 01:57.

Surviving countless losses, tragedy, and challenging life obstacles can teach you to appreciate your blessings far beyond words. Today, I sat with my father who shared a priceless childhood story...As tears rolled out of his eyes discussing family dynamics and experiences that "shaped his entire life" (as he put it)....he tried to keep the point humorous despite his sadness. I wanted to video tape his endearing story telling session, but didn't have the resources to do so, so I tried to jot down some notes for a hopeful, "next time" that he'd revisit such a story. Ultimately, the emotional subject matter boiled down to him learning the difference at a very young age between having things in life that he "needed" versus "wanted".

As the oldest of 9 step brothers and 2 step sisters, my father knew the love of a great many of his relatives at a young age. Throughout his lifetime, he has told countless stories of relatives whom I have yet to meet but would feel very blessed to meet as he tells of their great love for him.  He talks about trips between Tennessee and Ohio. He talks about growing up at the foothills of the Appalachia trail and being born in a house on the mountainside and childhood memories of the "Southside" and the "Garden Theatre" in Cleveland. His roots and love for so many folks is so overstretching that it'd take a lifetime to revisit. Through it all, he tries to keep an amazing smile and add some of his humor to---"the rest of the story..."

To know the kind of unconditional love that my father remains steadfast to share has been an ongoing learning lesson. In everyday life we see so much judgment, conditional love, and if/then type of relationships. We see so many folks snub their noses, outline their "boundaries" and selfishly guard their worlds without any consideration for others around them. To observe the folks who survive around their status symbol ideologies, who berate and degrade others, and who think their crap doesn't stink becomes a humble humor to folks like my dad. As he faces his own demise and health issues and renumerates that "he won't be here forever..."; he reminds us all that we cannot take it with us when we leave this earthly life.

I don't know that there could have ever been a better teacher regarding "humanity" than my own father. His constant reminders of humility, humbleness, and humanity amidst a world of diversity have survived the ages of time.  I have visited churches of many faiths, studied theology, and observed many "religous" folks in my lifetime. My father has countless (well read) bibles lining his bookcases...but hasn't attended a "church" in most of my life. Yet, his undaunting actions to share, care, and be fair have taught us more about "Christianity" than any church I have ever attended or any preacher I have ever watched thump the bible at the pulpit. 

Amidst some of the most exhausting, overwhelming, and tragic moments we have endured; his claw feet lined eyes have sustained a glimmer of his most instinctual resolves....survival through humor and a love so deep and compassionate that is incomparable. His reminders to appreciate the little things, not to miss the moments of life in front of us (Like the beautiful Cardinal on his porch today eating the cat food)...and to have consideration for those around us continue to amaze me. 

So, as the days speed by with to do lists a mile long and challenging scenarios that require digging deep from within; I am reminded by my father to just appreciate the moments we have. As he tells me to sit down and deal with another issue on his long list; I take a deep breath and smile that I even have such a blessed opportunity to help him. As I watch him work through his emotions of yet another child killed tragically less than a month ago and all the reactions to it; I see his "Christianity" tested to its limits....yet it remains steadfast far beyond words. Through it all; I am humbled. Through it all; I am blessed. Through it all; I have learned that what I may have wanted in this life may not have always been what I needed...and that I have been blessed with priceless gifts and riches far beyond many folks wildest imaginations and incomparable to diamonds and fancy cars.

Today, amidst moments with his grandchildren that were a bit chaotic during chore time; out of nowhere; dad stuck out his tongue at one of them and changed the stress to laughter. When he told me about the incident; he was laughing with his eyes shining. He said that the frustrated child went into the other room and laughed so hard he could hear them. He was tickled pink. Then he nudged me and reminded me to find the humor in life.....with a smile from ear to ear as he reenacted sticking his tongue out at the kids. How could you not smile at such simplicity within confusion? Live, Love, and Laugh often....but know your blessings amidst all of life's challenges.

 

Always Appreciative.....

 

 

 

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