My core value is to be thankful for what I have because life is unpredictable and it is important to take every opportunity of enjoying it. In a world so focused on the glamour of material possessions, many forget the happiness that comes from the most simple belongings: family, health, and friendship. As General Douglas MacArthur said, “There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity”. For me, an opportunity is a few extra days with my grandparents or an afternoon enjoying the company of my family. Ultimately, my core value is to appreciate the blessings that I have such as my family members, health and their presence in the events of my life, and the friendship of people who inspire me to become the best and happiest person possible.
This past summer I realized that my family is not protected by an invisible shield, when my grandma was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. I remember seeing my mom sitting in the balcony and just crying. She didn’t give my sister and me the details of her diagnosis until later, in order to protect us, but she continued to tell us that “Grandma is sick”. I thought, “Well if it’s a cold or something she’ll get better!”. Fortunately, she was able to receive the best medical treatment to remove the tumors granting us more time with her; keeping life as normal as possible. Her illness was an unfortunate reminder of how precious are the days we spend with our family, especially our grandparents.
After twenty five years my mother and her three siblings were finally all together with their parents in the same house. Even if only for a weekend, everyone took the opportunity to fly across the country to spend time together. During the time we spent together, I forgot about the mall and the movies and took the opportunity of sitting at the feet of my grandparents and just listening to all of my family members’ lively chatter. I practice my core value of taking every opportunity of enjoying life and expressing my love for my family.
That same summer I experienced the death of a family friend, Norma. My fondest memory of her was when she was dancing with her grandkids Nadia and Aidan to the Kool and the Gang song “Celebrate”. Norma was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when she was in her mid forties. With her perseverance and strength she survived for twenty years because she did not let the cancer control her life. When she was with her family, it seemed as if everything in the world had stopped and she only belonged to those moments of happiness. Her memorial was so beautiful and I remembered how much she enjoyed aspects of life that others would consider insignificant. I realized that you never know what happens in the future, but as long as you have the opportunity to be with your family and enjoy every moment you will never regret it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.