My frustration and disappointment is bubbling over a bit this morning, as I’ve just returned from dropping my children off at their elementary school. As a ‘seasoned’ parent however, I recognize it is only early September and some really great ‘drop-off’ material will find me in the coming weeks and months.
So, for today I will refrain from writing my annual ‘What’s wrong with parents in the drop-off area?’ rant (aka column).
This week I’m going to honor the advice of my five-year-old. Yes, my five-year-old gave me this week’s column topic directly.
The conversation went something like this as we were returning home from school late last week:
Me: What should mommy write about next week in my column? I have to write something for our readers and I’m lost.
Five-year-old: Well, why don’t you write about God and how thankful we are to him?
Me: Not so sure how that would work, honey. I have a lot of space to fill.
Five-year-old: Mommy, God gives us a lot every day. We really need to be thankful.
So there it is. This week’s topic: gratitude to God.
Before diving into this I want to be sure and make one blanket statement.
It is not my position to convert or persuade anyone to believe or pray to a certain or specific God or any for that matter. Every one should live and believe what is true to their heart. For me and mine it’s pretty simple: we believe in a power greater than us. We believe in God. Yes, the Hammond family believes undeniably in the statement “One nation under God.”
So, as I contemplated my daughter’s suggestion I began thinking of the column I wished I had written for last Wednesday’s September 4 issue. Then I realized this was the perfect platform to weave it into our September 12 issue.
We are now one day past the 11th Anniversary of September 11 and five days past the Fourth Annual airing of Stand Up To Cancer. Ironically both events represent lives lost, celebrate lives lived and also restore hope.
I guess you could say, these two events serve as a reflection time for me. Life happens so fast. We rush through the days, pausing if we’re lucky to kiss each other, express gratitude and count our blessings. Each event however, is a stark reminder of the fragile state of our lives.
Just as quickly as a building can fall from a terrorist attack, someone is hearing the words ‘You have cancer.’ Just as I watched the pain, terror and confusion come across my television on September 11, 2001 I still witness it on the faces of loved ones as they face the diagnosis of cancer.
Cancer sucks, it’s just that simple. Sure these are not the most prolific or polished words for a journalist to use, but pretty safe to say anyone who’s experienced this disease ‘gets’ these words.
Stand Up To Cancer, a program of the EIF (Entertainment Industry Foundation) is a pretty simple concept, similar to the once popular efforts of comedian Jerry Lewis who hosted the Annual MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Telethon. Different from the Lewis Telethon, this event takes over all three major networks and tells the stories of every day people of all ages, classes and races being touched by cancer.
Now the real trick, what does all this have to do with being ‘grateful to God?’ Well, it’s pretty simple really.
Among the many things I am grateful for in my blessed life, here’s a list of a few.
I am grateful for a country where I may speak the words I feel and even better, place them in a newspaper for a few people to actually read. I am grateful to live in a country where people voluntarily put themselves in harms way for my safety. I am grateful for selfless families who support these brave people and smile modestly as I thank them as well. I am grateful for a friend who allowed me to sit closely and visit as he battled cancer – not for himself but for the love of his family. I am grateful to the Warriors of Cancer who shave their heads and reassure the rest of us that everything will be fine, as a tear passes our cheek. I am grateful for the Survivors (of Cancer) for the stark reminder that progress is being made and that hope is not futile. I am grateful that Cancer is no longer a word which is whispered, as it was when I was a child. I am grateful that science is progressing and that alternative treatment is equally finding its voice. I am grateful to live in a country where people can and will seek what works best for them.
Overall when I give it really deep thought, I am thankful for passion. It is the people who are blessed by passion, be it for their job or a cause who will ultimately shake things up a bit and make things happen.
Lastly, I am very thankful (to God) for that amazing little five-year-old and her voice of reason. I am equally thankful for her brother, who oddly enough did not offer his two cents on that conversation of ‘What should mommy write,’ but rather nodded in agreement. Blessings … I count them and I’m not too proud to share.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.