I was raised with the concept that whenever you thought you had received a bad lot in life, you were supposed to remember that there was always someone else who had it much worse then you. Upset that you have a stomach ache ... there are kids who are way sicker than you. Bothered that you got one present for your birthday ... some kids get none. This can play out a million other ways. The problem with this thinking is that if you're a particular kind of child, like say me, you think you don't have a right to complain about anything. After all how bad can your situation be if there's a starving child in a far off land? You're not dying, after all. (Interesting side note: And yet every mysterious bump was checked to see if it had a symmetrical bump on the other side of your body, the lay person's way of checking for cancer. Every extended headache was a potential brain tumor. It was this agony of the potential major unknown illness that you shouldn't complain about. But I digress.)
I still struggle with discussing my issues, even with those who love me, because there's always somebody who has it worse than me. I'd much rather you know about the fantastic parts in my life, like something the babies have done, than prattle on about back pain or how much this election has depressed me. This is not healthy, I know, but sometimes when you're trying to be the light you don't want to dampen it.
I was given a gift today when I met a woman with such an indomitable spirit, that I still can't grasp how she was upright and functioning. She came in to see if she could cash a small check in order to buy a Christmas present for each of her two grandchildren. While we chatted, she told me that she needed a month's worth of transaction history to see if she could get her subsidized rent reduced for the month. She has custody of her grandchildren, and her ex son-in-law is over a month behind in his child support payments. She needs all the help she can get since her husband died two months ago. The hospital she works at was recently bought out by another hospital, and they were laying off all the employees with more than 25 years. They hadn't gotten to her yet, but at 34 years of service, she knows the layoff is due any minute. And it doesn't matter that it's one month before Christmas. She smiled throughout the whole story, and when we were able to cash that check she fairly giggled, hopping from one foot to the other. She was ecstatic that she could buy each grandchild the one present they wanted. The oldest is headed off to college next year, and she still trying to figure out how she's going to put him through school. She told me that she's hoping his other grandparents will help, but if not, she'll find a way.
I'm pretty sure my mouth was agape throughout the whole story. I told her she had an amazing spirit. She shrugged me off and told me I should meet the kids.