Family, Gratitude, Humor, motivation, Self reflection

Are you grateful? Are you sure? Do you have a leg to stand on?

This post is going to be a bit different. This post is about being grateful. It’s about family. It’s about fear. And it’s about humor in the face of overwhelming odds.

I have struggled with depression for quite some time. The problem is I have a great life. I have NOTHING to complain about. I have an awesome husband who loves me even though I’m 17 kinds of crazy. I have two healthy teenage daughters who actually like me enough to still want to hang out with me. We have a beautiful home. I have a pretty good car. My job is a source of joy (most of the time). And yet I have to take medicine to help me stay positive. A couple of years ago I bought myself a gratitude journal because I was making a concerted effort to count my blessings and joys, and not focus on the problems.

Now let’s back up a bit more. I have a big family. I mean BIG family. My dad is one of 10, and that means lots of cousins and fun times. They didn’t all live near us growing up, but one that did was my cousin, Freddy. He’s 2 years younger than me and 1 1/2 years older than my younger brother. So right between us. Meaning when the family hung out, we hung out. He really spent more time with my brother, because, you know, dude stuff, but we had fun too. The reason we liked hanging out with Freddy (sorry, Fred now) is because he was FUN. He was always up for anything, he was always laughing, and he just made you happy when you were with him. Plus, he had a Mustang, so there’s that.

Over the years, life happened, and we all went our separate ways. But Fred and I both ended up in North Texas. We friended each other on Facebook and kept up with each other on there. My husband surprised me on my 40th birthday with a party, and Fred, his wife, Leslie, and their daughter came to celebrate with me. It was awesome! After that, we haven’t seen each other, but we’re family. We don’t have to see each other to know that we have people in our lives that will be there if we need them. I know that Fred had to have his knees replaced because of playing football when he was younger and all the damage that can do. I also knew he was healing well, and it had been about a year since the surgery when he wrenched his knee playing soccer with his daughter. His post on Facebook said the doc thought the healing would be slow, but that he had’t torn anything.

My cousin and I at my 40th birthday party
Fred and I at my 40th birthday party

About a month ago, my younger brother called me. He sounded weird, and he asked me if I had been on Facebook. My brother doesn’t call me super often, so that, combined with his tone, made me instantly concerned. When I told him I hadn’t, he told me it was about Freddy. He said that Fred posted that he went in for a check up on his knee, and his doctor called in a vascular surgeon. The surgeon told him they needed to amputate his left leg immediately. They wouldn’t know until they got in there if it would be above or below the knee. By the time he told me about it, the surgery had actually already happened the day before. He was stunned, upset, and in shock. He kept saying, “He’s only 42.”

I got on Facebook, read Fred’s post, and I was laughing by the end of it. Fred hadn’t changed. He was meeting this obstacle with his customary humor and grace. He thanked his left leg for a good run. He told everyone that he and Leslie were meeting this head on because he would still be alive, and that’s what mattered. Since then, he wears a leg joke t-shirt every day, and calls his posts on Facebook “The Daily Stump”. Yep, that’s our Fred.

I wanted to share this post that is seemingly unrelated to education with you because this speaks to something central to my life. Gratitude. I have to work at being happy. It has to be my choice. I haven’t gone through anything near to what Fred and Leslie have faced, but I have so much to learn from their outlook. Be grateful.

It could be worse. You are alive. It’s not the end of the world.

Here are some of Fred’s shirts to make you laugh and inspire you to face whatever comes with the same humor and grace.