‘What are you grateful for?’ It’s a question one often asks or has asked of them. For me, I wonder if it is the beautiful blue sky I can see outside my window or perhaps I am grateful for my neighbour, who brought me a cup of her freshly brewed coffee. I’m not entirely sure what got me thinking about the things I am grateful for.
While it would be easy for me to consider the ‘aches and pains’ of my advancing years — and there are more than a few of those — it’s much nicer to think about the positives in one’s life. I find myself thinking of my now adult children, their partners and my beautiful grandson who all bring me so much joy. My two sons have been my greatest achievement in life; I am enormously proud of them both for what they have accomplished, especially with the pressures of life they’ve experienced along the way. ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy…’ or so the saying goes.
I’m also grateful for my life-long friends. I started thinking about them recently. In my (nearly) 65 years it is only the true friends that remain. I am incredibly grateful for the support and love they have given me when life was giving me a hard time. There have been physical and mental struggles, but it has been those friends that have helped get me through. I have the ‘Fab Four’ from New Zealand and while we don’t see each other often, when we do it’s like it was just yesterday. We can pick up right from where we left off. My ‘BFF’ is a man I’ve known for 28 years and when I was struggling with depression, he never treated me any differently and always supported me. That he does so even today makes me grateful for his friendship.
But it’s not just these friends. I’m grateful to social media for the friendships it has brought my way. Though there are some I will never meet, knowing they are there for me and I for them is invaluable. There is the lovely Susan, who drove three hours from her home in France to meet me in Brussels, Belgium and who I’ve emailed each day since. There is Pat, who has endured difficult personal circumstances and I hope that in sharing our troubles and woes I’m helping her as much as she is helping me. I often think about the dearly departed Percy, who I would have an early morning dialogue with, conversations I miss but am grateful to have had. These people (who I consider good friends) I’ve met online and it was Starts at 60 who introduced us. I guess I’m in some way grateful for this organisation.
Perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for the life I’m still able to lead. I was diagnosed with breast cancer one month after my 60th birthday, then again 12 months later in the other breast. At times I wasn’t sure I’d make my 62nd birthday, but here I am (albeit with a couple more health issues), my mind in tact and my sense of humour as robust and as risque as it ever was! Of course, breast cancer was difficult to deal with and the treatment (in my case a lumpectomy/radiation/mastectomy) left me with a very ugly looking chest.
I also suffer COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), sleep apnoea, three bulging discs and a compressed nerve in my back, but all this pales in significance to the two episodes of ‘treatment resistant severe clinical depression’. I fear another episode of this the most!
However, every day there are millions of people whose lives are more difficult than mine and it’s for this reason I am grateful.