No. 460



How long has it been since you stopped to count your blessings? In our home, my wife Viola counts them often, literally Ü because she has been so blessed by family, friends, fellow church members and a great number of readers who have sent her cards, thought gifts and other expressions of love and concern. In case you don't know, Viola has Parkinson's, but this debilitating disease has only affected her body, never her attitude or her spirit. ItÕs been more than six years now since she was first diagnosed and this relentless disease is beginning to really take a toll, especially in the past few weeks. She has gone from walking with a slight limp, to using a cane, then a walker which she still uses, and this past week we got a battery powered chair, like those you see on TV, that enables her to get around a whole lot better.

As I said, one of the things that has really blessed her is the large number of personal notes and thoughtful cards that others have sent to her over the past several months. As she receives and reads each one, after sharing it with me, she just tosses it into a wicker basket that sits on top of an old cedar chest in the center of our large combination family, kitchen and dining room. She calls this her "Blessing Basket." This basket will hold over 100 of these special notes and expressions of love and she told me recently that she has emptied it at least three or four times in the past couple of years. This has been so meaningful to her that she purchased and gave a similar basket to a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. For people who have many lonely and unsettled days, the real blessing is to be able to get some of those notes out and reread them, to be reminded that others do care and they are not alone. Do you have a blessing basket?

Needless to say, there have been a lot of adjustments that I have had to make because of our circumstances at this point in our lives. Less you misunderstand, I want to make it very clear that I never complain about the extra things I get to do because Viola can no longer do them. I never dreamed that I could work in the office, travel to speaking engagements, make the beds, do the laundry, do the grocery shopping, cook our meals, wash and put away the dishes, (we do have a dishwasher), and take care of our small garden. All of this comes under the heading of doing what you have to do. However, we do have a wonderful lady who comes to our home a couple of times each month to really clean house. That is, she cleans up some of the messes I have made.

All of this has served to show me just how much work Viola has been doing, and all the wives out there said, "Amen!" For me, it's really a joy to be able to do these things, because she has taken care of me first class for most of the years of our marriage. One thing we still do is laugh a lot. We need that. If you are not having fun and laughing a lot in your home, you are indeed missing a great blessing. Something happened one morning a few days ago that really illustrates what I am saying. It's Viola's nature to want things to be done right, and to have them done right now. Not next week, but right now. She has a special way of prodding me to get it done. A couple of days of having her point to this and then that for me to do, and my mind being on writing a column or doing something in the office, finally got to me. My solution was to have her make a list and write down everything she wanted me to do, and then I would do all these things at the same time when I took a break. When I was explaining this concept to her, she said, "It's obvious that you have never been a wife and mother." To this I responded with a line that I heard the late Earl Nightingale say one time, "Madam, you have finally spoken a great truth." Of course, what she was inferring is that I could only think of one thing at a time, which is another way of saying that I have a one-track mind.

When we were visiting in a couple's home the other day and I was telling this story, this lady said, "Jr. is the same way here." Apparently this trait is widespread among men. On a more serious note, one thing our personal experience has revealed to me is the large number of people in our nation who are walking the same road. To be the caregiver for another person can be a blessing or it can be a curse, depending on our attitude. We can see it as an opportunity to serve God by taking care of one of His children or we can see it as a millstone around our neck that keeps us from doing what we want to do. You will find that one of the major causes for divorce in our country is selfishness. Nothing lasts forever, but doing the right thing will bring everlasting joy. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)