by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Thanksgiving is upon us. Tis the season to express gratitude and appreciation to your family and loved ones. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the bountiful blessings received and good deeds bestowed upon mankind.
Life comes at you fast. We spend so much time navigating through life’s obstacles, it’s hard to take the time to appreciate the blessings. We’re too caught up in the daily grind of working, providing for our families, trying to stay healthy, and attempting to have a little fun in the middle of it all. It’s only during these holidays or when we’re met with a life-changing event that we take a deep breath and do some much-needed introspection.
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I’m met with both an upcoming Thanksgiving holiday feast and shortly thereafter, the burial services of my mother-in-law who recently passed away after what seemed to be a lifelong battle with Lupus. Lupus is a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Interesting to note, when I first met the woman who later became my mother-in-law, I accompanied my then girlfriend to the hospital to visit her mom. She was fighting Lupus. Some 30 years later, married to her daughter and father to two of her grandchildren, my last time conversing with her, she was in the hospital fighting the ill effects Lupus had done to her vital organs. She was of sound mind. So our conversation was fun-loving and funny as always. When I arrived, she wanted me to know that she had listened to my advice and she is focused on her healing. She told me she needed some 2-pound weights so that she can get stronger. She then proceeded to do what she called an exercise. She was lying flat on her back. She proceeded with raising her pelvic region, then she started thrusting up and down. I looked at her and said, you call that an exercise? It looks like you were twerking to me. She, myself, the doctors and nurses, and everyone in the room burst out laughing. She said, son-in-law, I can always count on you for a good laugh.
In this article, I’m going to share some life lessons that I learned over the years observing and interacting with my mother-in-law. Lessons that all of us should heed, adapt and apply. The lessons boil down to three core characteristics that my mother-in-law embodied—Thankfulness, Thoughtfulness and Kindness!
Thankful: My mother-in-law didn’t want much and she didn’t ask for anything. The thing that inspired her the most was feeling appreciated and respected by her loved ones. She simply wanted to be heard and wanted to feel needed. She was a perpetual giver. Whenever and wherever she could, she would show her generosity. For a while, I prepared her taxes. I was impressed during tax time as she neatly presented me with her documents detailing all the charitable donations she had given to various churches and non-profit organizations. I knew that as a retired widow and a limited capacity to earn extra income, her charitable contributions were huge sacrifices. This is an example of her doing without so that others who were less fortunate can have something. Seeing others benefit from her efforts was her way of feeling grateful and thankful. We call this paying forward. It’s amazing in a culture filled with a me, me, me mentality, one of her greatest characteristics is looking out for others.
Thoughtful: As you get older, people tend to forget about your birthdays and you tend to fall off the Christmas list of most people. You’re replaced on both lists by your children. I have come to accept it as the norm. As a matter of fact, I teach it as a method to create wiggle room in the budget. My advice is straightforward; cross adults off of your gift-giving list. Throughout the years, I could count on one person who remembered every milestone in my life. Every birthday, every holiday, every anniversary I was greeted with a card and a monetary gift. She’d always hand-write a personal note on the card. I’ll admit, just the mere fact that she was one of few who thought of me on those special occasions made me smile. She didn’t do that for just me. She was just as thoughtful to all of her family, friends, and loved ones. She remembered everyone’s special day. She did the same thing she did for me for everyone who was special to her.
Other examples of her thoughtfulness: She had four grandchildren. She had set up college funds for all four of her grandchildren, one of which recently graduated from college. Another who is a sophomore in college. Those college gifts came in handy. I alluded to her saying she took my advice earlier regarding her focusing on herself. Here’s the rest of the story…
I was talking to her on the phone in an effort to lift her spirits. She told me, I don’t think I’m going to be here much longer. I’ve been praying for you, Lashan (wife) and the kids. I’ve been praying for Bobbie (sister-in-law), Eddie (Bobbie’s husband) and the kids. I stopped her. I said that’s honorable and very selfless of you. I hate to admit this out loud but if I thought I was on my death bed, my focus and my prayers would be on me. I told her the family is good. We got us. I need you to focus on your healing and recovery.
Kindness: To know her, you’d know she walked softly but she carried a big stick. Don’t cross her. You’d think I was lying about her being kind. The definition of kind is liking or wanting to do good and bring happiness. As illustrated by what made her thankful and her thoughtful, I tell no lies. She was of a kind heart!
May we all adopt and apply the characteristics of Thoughtfulness, Thankfulness, and Kindness this Thanksgiving and forevermore. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 422-216-1013 or visit his website at www.damonmoneycoach.com)