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I am not writing my usual child-focused column this week. I thought long and hard about sharing this story and finally concluded that the message was special enough to warrant the personal exposure.  

This week I want to share with the Fabulously 40 family a personal family story with you that speaks volumes about family, values, and the holiday season. You probably will not learn anything new, but it is my hope that it will give you a brand new perspective on yourself – your current state of affairs - and things to strongly consider teaching to your family.

To understand this story, you must know a little about what led up to this Thanksgiving.

My wife has been a nurse for over 40 years. Like me, she has devoted her efforts in various settings to children, families, the elderly, and those who are often victims in our society.  

Six months ago she was stricken with a very rapid onset rheumatoid arthritis. Within 4 months she was completely disabled and bedridden. She could not walk, grasp objects, raise her arms above her waist, or get up or down from furniture without a great deal of assistance. The constant intense pain was hard to watch. We have no family close – so I became the sole caretaker.

As you may expect, her employer of 6 years rudely terminated her and her insurance immediately. She became uninsurable. The many medical and pharmaceutical bills grew at a staggering pace. I canceled my pending retirement plans.

The medications became much stronger and the side-effects much worse. Nothing seemed to help. Depression became a constant enemy. Her pride was shattered. She lost her job, her career, and now had to ask for the simplest thing. In similar circumstances, I probably would have been much more depressed.

Well meaning friends offered to help me place her in a nursing home setting. I admit to becoming angry on occasion and asking, "Why in the hell would I want to do that? She is my wife!" After recovering from their surprise, their responses were usually something or other about me being able to "have a life" or "move on."  Nonsense! This woman is my wife! I can cook - I can clean – I can hand feed - I can bathe and shampoo – I can dress and comb hair. Their questions were a sad commentary on the state of our families, our men, and of our society in general.

Five days ago another new drug was tried – the results were amazing and rapid. Within days I could see the improvement. Being a cancer drug that suppresses the immune system, the possible side effects are scary but so far she has had no side effects. The cost is outrageous but worth every penny.

Yesterday morning when I came home from work, she was sitting in a chair with a barrette in her hair!  

I was ecstatic! That meant that she had gotten up – walked into the bathroom on her cane – grasped a barrette in her hand – squeezed it open - reached over her head – and finally she had walked into the living room and sat down - all by herself! What a glorious Thanksgiving present! Hopefully her improvement will continue.

I remembered that interestingly enough, in my most recent Seamus the Sheltie book, my favorite story – "A Seamus Christmas" focuses exclusively on these values in a way that children and adults alike can understand. Was that story a precognition of things to come? Perhaps. Maybe it was my way of rehearsing for what was coming.

Please take the time to contemplate all that you and your children have. The things that you never really think about – getting up – holding a spoon – going to the bathroom - or getting dressed. Think about all of the things that you have and all of the things that you can do – things that never cross your mind. I have learned that love can indeed see you through. When the world throws horrific things in your path – spit in its face – and just love even harder. Never give up on the ones that you love.

Teach your family that holidays are about much much more than gifts and things. Teach them to celebrate family and all of the blessings that they have and never think about.

 The next time you feel sorry for yourself, go outside and think about all of those that cannot go out and feel the sun or rain on their face.  

I hope that by sharing this very personal story with you, you will gain perhaps a new perspective on what is really important in life – and pass it along to your children.

I just had the most wonderful Thanksgiving I could ever have – She had a barrette in her hair!

**James is a Masters level Child Psychologist and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked with distressed families for 40 years. He is the author of the Seamus the Sheltie series of children's books that were designed to assist parents in discussing difficult issues with younger children. Both books have received multiple national awards from parenting organizations. Mr. Beverly has written and published articles on parenting in a variety of media.

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Member Comments

    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Janet Wooley wrote Nov 29, 2009
    • I loved this story. We as a country have SOOO much to be thankful for. I for one spent an entire week thanking God for all he has done for me and my family. I believe in my heart those who are thankful have the victories in life.

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Nov 29, 2009
    • That is a beautiful story. Thank You so much for sharing it with us.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Songbird wrote Nov 29, 2009
    • Right now, I am stroking my cat and he is purring so very Affectionately, snuggling up closer to me.  

      Such beautiful expression of love and joy between a human and a beast is indeed a Blessing. Something I truly am so thankful for.

      If not being given a cat when we moved into this town, I and my family would not have tasted such a beautiful exchange of love and joy between a human and a beast. I am immensely thankful for that gift.

      I have found my son the perfect sleeping robe he likes. He was so pleased with it. He hugged me and kissed me to thanked me and showed joy and gratitude for having it. Seeing him walking around enjoying every moment being in it bring such joy to my heart. I am so thankful for that joy.

      It is good to have holidays like Thanksgiving to remind us to be thankful but we do not have to wait for that to be.  

      Like what I told my friend, my birthday came and went pretty ordinarily but everyday is a Blessing.

      And you are so very right, holidays are so much more than just gifts and things. It is an important message to pass to our kids.

      This is one of my favorite quote :-

      The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart. - Helen Keller  

      Thank you for sharing such great article, every now and then we do forget the daily miracles in our life.  

      I wish you and your wife, happiness and the best of health.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Nov 30, 2009
    • Thank you for sharing this with us.

       I'm sorry you have had to go through this nightmare (it still shocks me about the US when people need medical aid the most they lose it)
      I hope you and your wife have a lovely holiday season.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Deb Darby wrote Nov 30, 2009
    • Congratulations on Mrs Beverly’s progress, and to her for having a very wonderful man like you for a husband. These are not easy things to do, and your love for her gave you the courage and strength. I’m sure it helped her to be less depressed and not give up.

      Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you both!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Laurie Zieber wrote Dec 2, 2009
    • I enjoy your column so much.  happy

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