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With the Help of Others

It occurred to me recently how much of what I have to be thankful for in life is through the thoughtfulness and actions of others. In other words: I owe a lot to a lot of people.

We tend to think of the accomplishments and milestones in our lives as things we, personally, have done. There is truth to this. But it very often isn't the whole truth. For many of us have lived lives of great fortune, receiving kindness from many that we have encountered. Sometimes these have been small acts, sometimes big ones, and sometimes they have been small acts with big impact. Following are just a few of the situations I have to be thankful for in my life.

Aside from the gift of life, I of course have my mother to thank for so many things. She was often a buffer between my father and I, during our worst times. She was there for me when I lived on my own, and couldn't always make ends meet. And she pitched-in and was of immense help during my campaign for public office.

My partner Ashley has done so much for me over the years that it's impossible to list them all in a single blog post. From being there for me emotionally, financially, and through sickness and health, he's been a Godsend.

Then there was Mark, an assistant manager at Garcia's Pizza, where I worked from 1994-97. I quit there in a huff one day. The store manager was a very up-and-down person, and the rot had set-in when she had issues letting me take the day off so I could attend what ended up being my dying father's final birthday party. A month later things went bad again, and I quit. I acquired another job a month later, and found out that it was assistant manager Mark who had taken the call from my prospective employer, and given me a good reference.

How can I forget those who have encouraged my writing over the years? Aside from the usual suspects, there was also Mr. Yanchus, one of my high school English teachers, who would always give my writing high marks, and on one occasion gave me 30 points more than was technically eligible. He would also read some of my prose to the class (anonymously). After one of the times he did that, a fellow classmate whom I adored, named Chris, approached me during lunch and asked if I had written the piece that Mr. Yanchus had read to the class. I nervously responded in the affirmative, and Chris said that he'd really liked it. Stuff like that made me feel good about soldiering on.

I've remarked in prior posts how it sucks having a birthday at the time of year that I do, what with the harsh winter weather and the big holidays of Christmas and New Year's often usurpring the anniversary of Matt's birth. So it's true that I will always remember when folks take the time to celebrate it, whether it be Jake & Amanda driving over an hour through snow to make it to our house, or Jonathan & Mary doing the same coming from Urbana, such efforts mean a lot.

Then there's all the political colleagues I have to thank for their help and faith in me to get me elected to public office. Folks like Tony Fabri, Brandon Bowersox, Claudia & David Gross, Jenny Putman and others. And it wasn't just the political types who helped me get elected. It was people like my aunt Sinda Ann, my friend Wilhelmina, Ben Grosser, and of course the 2,498 voters who put their faith in me to serve them in elected office. That kind of support is something I did not take lightly.

How about when my life has literally been in another's hands? Dr. Haynes of Christie Clinic did a great job operating on my thyroid. There could have been so much that went wrong, but he performed his duties extremely well. And bless the man -- David, I think his name was -- who stood behind me, monitoring my vitals during surgery, whose dulcet voice and reassuring words were of enormous comfort to me in the minutes before I went under the knife.

Of course, one cannot forget the general help that has come from co-workers throughout the years, whether it be as back-up to my daily duties, filling-in when I've been on vacation or medical leave, promotions, or a simple faith in my ability to do the jobs required of me. Work provides structure, money, security and accomplishment, so a big thank you to those that have helped me with it over the years.

Then there are the people I have never met: those who have died for a cause. There have been -- and will continue to be -- human beings who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives so that other human beings may prosper. Whether they've been members of civil rights movements, troops of war, politicians, or just regular folks trying to do the right thing, so many have given up the gift of life in order to make the world a better place. The ultimate sacrifice.

Yes, there's so many people I am indebted to. But this is what good human beings do, they look out for one another. We wouldn't advance much in life without the help of others. My mind swirls when I think of all the folks who've been there for me during my life, in major and minor ways.

I know I've forgotten some people in this blog post. I promise it's not been on purpose. I also know that there've probably been some mortal angels that have helped me throughout my life whose deeds I've not been aware of. It is in cases such as those that I truly want to believe in good karma.


  1. I hope you don't mind some extra philosophizing.. First I'm a huge huge fan of people being thankful and appreciating and showing appreciation for . . really everything they enjoy or even could enjoy about their life. I just find one thing about the beginning of your post. . interesting.

    You mention in the first paragraph that you "owe a lot of people." I don't want to tell you how to feel or define your words for you, but I think a lot of people connect gratitude to "owing" someone something, or even feel that if they get a gift (especially one they appreciate) then they owe said person for the gift.

    I like to take the definition of gift that it is only really a gift if it is freely given without obligation. Therefor, in my opinion/definition, if you feel you owe someone for a gift, then it ceases to be a gift. I would take this then, one step further, that *most* things we are grateful for, are usually gifts. Obviously not all. I can be grateful that I got my job and it's not a gift really at all, but I would probably go ahead and say that if we are that grateful, then we probably feel like it's a gift. My logic gets a bit muddy here. . . and it's really mostly irrelevant and I want to reiterate that you are not doing it wrong. I just wanted to dissect how the idea of owing and gratitude fit together briefly.

    anyway it's great that you are appreciating all of these things, events, and people in your life!

  2. Hi there!

    Of course I don't mind some extra philosophizing. I thought your comments were very thoughtful. :-)

    I guess when I saw "owe" I don't necessarily mean it in the literal sense of a quid pro quo thing of 'this person has done something for me, so I must do something for them.' But, for example, I feel like I owe my job to the person who hired me. I don't necessarily owe them anything (aside from doing good work), but I mustn't forget that the person who decided to hire me allowed me to have a steady job, with benefits, with an income that has allowed me to afford things, etc.

    So, yeah, while I do try and choose my words carefully, I don't regret using the word "owe." It basically translates to: 'I have this because.....'

    Not sure if I made things more clear, or more murky. ;-)


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