I’m Very Thankful!

21Feb13

If you don’t have anything to say, then say ‘Thank you’.

thankful (1)

This is a very personal story but and I hope you read it all the way. I’m sure I romanticized the details some, but it is as truthful as I can tell it.

I had been digging lately for some bit of truth I could write about. I’ve been stuck in the mines of ‘meaning’ and hiding in the shadows of ‘doubt’. All of this wandering to just find myself with nothing singularly significant to say . . . and then I remembered some wisdom I got from an elderly patient.

truth

He was a sweet old man very near the end of his life and I only cared for him for a few days, but he had a lot of nice things to say, and some great stories. I’d like to think all the stories were a test, and that I passed.  I’d like to think he was testing for my reactions and to get a glimpse of who I was, and if I was worthy of the final secrets he would tell me. Maybe I was just mesmerized and he made me feel special. No matter the reason, near the end of our time together he drew me close and spoke in a low by lively tone. He told me what he thought was the secret to life was. In fact, he had a few secrets and I was attentive to each.

I’ll always remember the things he shared and how he shared them. I knew that a lot of his wisdom was coming through his filter of working a hard life that led to success. He had worked as a laborer for years when he was young but decided to take the risk of opening a business which he sold a few years later for a nice profit. He used this profit to start another business which he sold to make an even greater profit; he was a creator and this inspired me.

Do you know what was weird, that shouldn’t have been weird? He had his hand on me the whole time we spoke close. He held my hand or put his hand on my shoulder or forearm. Somehow the physical connection gave extra weight to his words and engraved the moment in my memory. Maybe it’s because I never had a father and I was so unaccustomed to this kind of affection, but I knew that it was love, though we had just met. I share this here because I feel safe – I was reluctant at first. I have found that ever since, whenever I’ve needed to really connect with someone when we speak, I always try to hold their hand – does this fit in our society?

hand-in-hand

Why am I telling you this? Well, because I would like to share what he told me, but I don’t think I could without doing it the same way he did.

I can share one thing though. During our chit chat one day, I don’t remember what we were talking about but I threw out the old saying “Well, if you can’t say something nice, then you should say nothing at all”, and he stopped me dead. He sternly and abruptly said “NO!”

I was shocked. I was about to apologize, thinking I had somehow unknowingly offended him, but he took a deep breath, as though trying to summon the strength to tell me something important without driving it down my throat. “No” he said calmly, “If you don’t have anything to say, then say ‘Thank you’” I wasn’t going to press him for an explanation since I was worried that I might really upset him – this was very important to him.

Later, once our conversation returned to a lighter level, he would go on to tell me how I should never look ‘down at my feet’, always say something when I walk in a room even if the room is empty, and that laughter is amazing medicine. So far, these are easy truths that really don’t hold a lot of meaning, until you eventually need them.

He went on to say that since I was so young,  I have no idea how much I should be thankful for, but I if I lived as long as he did, I would learn this because I would lose these things like youth, health, some friends, some family, some opportunities, lost chances, blessings, graces, dignities, and such. His eyes were full of meaning when when gently squeezed my hand and told me ‘You have so much to be thankful for. Don’t wait to be an old man to notice’ I am learning this to be true more and more.

He passed away a few weeks later. None of my workmates seemed to notice, yet I will never forget.

I am thankful, especially when I don’t have anything else to say; it is in those moments of pause that I try to find a few positive things to focus on. I  can always find something to be thankful for and luckily, new things seem to pop up all the time – Maybe that old man was thankful for me? I am very thankful for him.

Thank you.

thankful

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4 Responses to “I’m Very Thankful!”

  1. beautiful. i think something really rotten enters a culture when men are no longer “allowed” to hold hands. and, yes: thank you. 🙂

  2. great philosophy delivered with love

  3. I’m glad I read this.


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