Sep 01 2014
Recently, I was challenged to come up with fifteen reasons why I should be grateful to be alive. This was the trend o’ the week on Facebook, and I was only glad to just have to come up with fifteen of them. I could have just as easily come up with a hundred, but that would have made for too long a column.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. I am eternally grateful for the best friend I can see, Fluffy. Fluffy makes every day an adventure, even on the days when we just sit with our arms around each other watching reality TV.
Fluffy held my hand for twelve days when I was unconscious in a hospital, and he’s been my caregiver ever since. He has not strangled me even though he has wanted to, and that takes an act of unbridled patience. He is a saint in a bunny suit, and I am so glad we get to spend eternity together. Team Bunny rules!
2. I am equally grateful for the best friend I can’t see, who is God. That may seem strange, but I spent a long time in several hospitals with nobody else to talk to. I was too weak to read or even to turn on a television, and He kept me company. I will always treasure that time we spent together. It was so sacred to me that I was sad to go home, and for that reason alone I will never regret those three months spent in the hospital.
3. I am eternally grateful for the home where we live. To this day, people sometimes sniff, “This house is too big for two people,” but I know it was hand-picked by God just for Fluffy and me, and I am grateful for it.
For years, for example, I used to laugh about the bizarre shape of the powder room on our main floor. There was absolutely no reason a powder room needed to have that weird shape. Now I see that it is absolutely — to the inch — the shape and size that is needed to accommodate my wheelchair. And the pedestal sink I always hated is perfect for me to roll up to and wash my hair.
Everything about that house was designed just for us. I am continually amazed at it, and grateful for it every day. I can’t think of a more beautiful surrounding to live in as I recuperate. I face every day with joy.
4. Sisters. I have two of them. They could not be more different.
Sandee is one of the wittiest people on the planet. I will never forget the day she acted as auctioneer when we divided up our late father’s possessions. Never mind that she wanted to take it all back afterwards; she was so funny that if we’d recorded it she could have gotten a Hollywood contract.
Susie, on the other hand, is gentle and sweet and wildly creative. She once counted her tinkles for an entire year and then sent me a postcard that said, simply: “1492, and that’s no s**t.” Susie got the personality I always wanted. Bummer.
5. The time we live in. I am so glad to have been born when I was. I am old enough to remember the olden days before color television (almost before black and white television) and certainly old enough to have been taught proper grammar in school, but young enough to be able to take advantage of modern technology.
I love TiVos and the Spaloo and digital cameras and the tablet that has my scriptures and my Kindle on it and everything else technology has to offer…well, with the exception of cell phones. You can keep your cell phones, thank you. What a pain they are!
6. Priesthood blessings. How can I even explain priesthood blessings to people who aren’t Mormons? Just imagine having God tell you exactly what he wants you to hear, word for word, and your being able to hear it and even (if you’re so inclined) to write it down afterwards.
Bill Gates, with all his billions of dollars, can’t buy what Latter-day Saints get for free. Priesthood blessings have saved my life, and I know it.
But more than that, priesthood blessings have told me important things that I need to know about the future of my life. I have made many course changes based on priesthood blessings. I have most of my priesthood blessings written down verbatim, and then laminated. They are for nobody’s eyes but mine (and Fluffy’s if he wants to see them), but they are scripture to me.
7. I am grateful for friends.
When Fluffy and I got married, our Mormon bishop told us to always choose weird friends. He said people who try to be like everyone else aren’t worth much, and you’ll always get joy out of eccentric friends. We followed his advice and have never been sorry.
You crazy people out there, we’re glad we picked you. You have made our lives memorable, to say the least. I could make a list of the crazy friends we have, but you’d never believe us — and then you’d spot yourself as being one of them and you might realize for the first time that you aren’t “normal” so I won’t bother. Thanks for all of you.
8. I am grateful for computers. As a writer, computers comprise most of my life. I remember the day that when I needed to learn something, I had to walk to the University of Utah library to look it up. Now I get on Google at least a dozen times a day.
This is a miracle to me that people of this generation will never understand. Word processors are another miracle to anyone who grew up using manual typewriters and carbon paper. Computers may be a toy to some people, or a mechanism for playing games to others. To me, they are my entire professional life.
9. I am grateful for finding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more than 40 years ago. A lot of people say a church is a church. Not so, this one — at least, not for me. This church is a culture, a support system, and a religion, all rolled into one. I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about being a Mormon, but I don’t want to push it on anyone. If you’re interested, you know where to find me.
10. I’m grateful for adversity. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve never said I wasn’t eccentric! Everyone knows the cliché that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but it’s only a cliché because it’s true. Thanks to the adversity I’ve had in my life, I’m a rock (you notice I did not say I’m a rock star), and I’m grateful for that.
11. I’m grateful for my relatives, both the living ones and the ones who are no longer on the leafy side of the turf. Facebook has gotten me better acquainted with the living ones, and I’m glad about that.
As for the dead ones — well, that’s interesting. I had always heard about guardian angels, but I came back from my twelve-day “nap” acutely aware that relatives on the other side were working hard on my behalf. I hope to meet them (or meet them again) one day and thank them for what they did, and what they are still doing, on behalf of Fluffy and me.
12. I’m grateful for The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I’ve read it a zillion times (by actual count), and it’s just like the Bible in that there’s always something new in it.
We Mormons have been told we’ve only got a third of it, and we’ll only get the other two-thirds when we’re worthy to read it. This drives me crazy. I want to tell the other Mormons to shape up (because, of course, I’m doing everything right and the condemnation can’t possibly apply to me) so we’ll get the rest. But they don’t, so we only have the skinny part. Bummer.
13. I am grateful for unanswered prayers. If my prayers were answered, I’d be skinny and healthy and rich — and I wouldn’t have learned any of the lessons in life I’m supposed to be learning.
Since the whole reason we’ve been put here is to learn lessons, my whole life would have been pointless. So I guess I’m glad that despite all the tears and temper tantrums, God has left a lot of my most fervent prayers unanswered.
14. I am grateful for just enough travel to have shown me just how fortunate I am to live in the USA. For those of you Americans who don’t appreciate your native land, I challenge you to go out and do a little humanitarian work in another country. Maybe Haiti, where Fluffy and I saw people living in “houses” that consisted of four poles with corrugated metal roofs. The furniture consisted of logs.
And this was before the earthquake.
We may waste a lot of our tax money, but a lot or our tax money that isn’t wasted goes to help people in countries like Haiti. That’s when I’m proudest to be an American.
15. Finally, I am grateful for my body. For most of my life I have hated my body, because it has not just been fat — it has been uber-fat. And it has not been uber-fat because of anything I have done to make it so; it has been uber-fat because I gained 140 pounds in six months all of its own accord.
People have treated me with disgust and revulsion, and I have treated myself the same way. Then, when I was in the hospital a year and a half ago, I got a priesthood blessing that said I chose this body before I was born.
The priesthood blessing didn’t say why I chose this body, but apparently I needed to learn lessons (I would assume humility!) that I could learn no other way. Maybe the people around me needed to learn lessons too.
Since the priesthood blessing, I have come to terms with my body. It has certainly taken me on many adventures! I can’t say I’m not looking forward to the next life, when I’ll be pretty again. But as for this life, at least I don’t hate myself as much as I used to. My body and I are in it for the long haul, and it and I and Fluffy are having a lot of fun together as we see how I’ll get in trouble next.
Okay, people, that’s it for me. Reading the list over, I am surprised that no food items made the list. Where was chocolate? Where was Dungeness crab? Where was Popeye’s chicken? People, you who have seen me know that food is there. I like food. Food is my friend.
So are thunderstorms, in all their majesty. I’m really big on rain. And also …
Oh, rats. If I don’t stop now, I’m never going to quit. There are just too many great things in this wonderful world.
Thanks to all of you who have read my chronicle of gratitude. Maybe it has inspired you to think of the things you are grateful for, too.