Persisting a few days, I was laid flat by something painful in my lungs… feeling like a pulled ligament or infection. Even small exertions left me with coughing spasms. I could barely breathe without touching off another bout.
News reports tell of people being placed on round-the-clock hospital ventilators, having to struggle alone in the absence of family due to pandemic protocols – hanging on… one measured breath after another… minute to minute… week after week. True warriors. Being a person blessed by good health, I’ve never known what it’s like to be that sick.
Stuck staring at the ceiling, surrounded by people they don’t know. Yet, thankful for small mercies: professional caring hands that may be the last patients ever hold. Illness affects everyone’s family and their lifestyle from young to old. You’re no longer able to help others – not when you’re already running on empty.
One of our daughters asked me about our role in society. As a “raconteur”, it includes my various musings as a storyteller. So, I see my role as simply reflecting back to others what I’ve learned – being the middleman – and often, the ‘man in the mirror’ interpreting what I see. But – at this confessional moment – I know times that I’ve missed the mark. Sadly, because of my ‘me first’ attitude, it’s meant I’ve been distracted… not being there for others.
“I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me and nothing else at all”
Yesterday When I Was Young by Charles Aznavour & Elton John
But, no matter our health situation, our age group, or anything else; we can still do something to help make a difference. Maybe something small, like helping a neighbour who’s a care giver. They don’t even need to know who did it. Also, local charitable groups would appreciate our talents towards some volunteer project… something that ties into our own passion. And, of course, helping out financially is always appreciated.
Plus, we can always be mindful of others in our prayers and reflections. Like my dad use to say, it’s the thought that counts… something we can do before rising for the day.
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“May the stars carry your sadness away,
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
May hope forever wipe away your tears,
And, above all, may silence make you stronger.”
– by Chief Dan George
The best thing? It’s never too late to re-start. Some “Boomer” friends of mine tell me that 70 years-old is the new 50. Why not be grateful for what we have while appreciating what others endure?
There’s always been anecdotal evidence associated with the good feelings we get when helping others. In addition, verifiable scientific studies – including a recent University of Pittsburgh report – show that our support to others activates a neural pathway in the brain that boosts our well-being.
Songwriter, John Lennon, was asked for the best lyrics he ever wrote. “That’s easy”, replied Lennon, “All you need is love.”
That’s the way I figure it. – FP