Gratitude ~ Oy, What A Week I'm Having

For an introduction to the 'Perspectives:' series, visit ~
"Perspectives: An Introduction"

Nancy Koons Wenrich - one goofy old lady, I am so grateful for.

Rather than my usual approach of giving my attention to an idea, of blabbering on about the concepts and philosophic basis behind an idea, I had planned instead to treat my ‘Perspectives:’ this month, on ‘Gratitude’, in a very different manner – my intention was to write a short story illustrating the personal gain enjoyed when we live with a general disposition of gratitude. But personal events have kind of bullied me into a corner, a corner where I’ve had to, like, very much had to reflect on owning a sense of gratitude during some very heartbreaking circumstances.

I am surrounded by family. I am drowning in family. I have very few moments in life when my attention is not commandeered by family – and this is perfect for me. Just about every weekend there is at least one birthday or anniversary or graduation, etc. And now, they’re even making-up their own Holidays to get everyone together . . . last week was ‘Apple Day’. My wife, all the daughters, granddaughters, and a few aunts and cousins, spend the morning picking apples, bake goodies all afternoon, and then all the husbands and brothers, and grandfathers, join the ladies and we eat (mostly apple stuff).

My beautiful Mary

On this Apple Day, one of my many daughters came and stood in front of me, obviously displaying for me a torso-covering homemade cardboard cutout of a house, shaped like a boot, hanging around her neck. It was a reference to ‘the old lady who lived in a shoe, who had so many kids . . .’, etc. My Mary has 5 kids at home. Each of the windows in this cardboard boot-house she was wearing had a photo of one of her kids, with double doors just covering her belly . . . as she instructed me to open the doors, I discovered a sonogram – I’m a grampa again!

That was last week. At the beginning of this week, Mary lost little Lincoln. Her sister Sarah and her family drove down to Virginia, from Hershey Pa, to be with her in the hospital and to spend the night with her and her family. My wife Pixie and I couldn’t go down because my wife’s mother had gone into the ICU with breathing trouble. The day after holding her baby, already dead, Mary and her family drove up to be with us all as her grandmother was dying. My Pixie’s mother, my mother-in-law for nearly 40 years, died in a hospital ICU a couple of days ago.

And now, I am scheduled to write about ‘gratitude’. And this comes easy to me . . . I’ve just graduated from a crash course in gratitude.

We are all dying. We will all die. Our life on earth is contained, it has an end as sure as it has a beginning. This life we’re living, these days we are passing through, this is it – this is our life, the one life we have to live. So, that it ends is not the sad bit, the end of life is a normal part of life, that’s what’s supposed to happen. We will miss those we love when we can no longer visit them, but the fact that they lived is not sad just because they’ve come to the part of life at the end, when their life has run it’s course and is now over – the sad bit is if the life they lived, the one life they had to live, was lived alone. God has made us creatures of relationship, He made us male and female, calls us to marry and produce children, so we have parents and children and spouses and aunts and brothers and grandmas, etc, etc. We are not made to live alone, we are made to live in union with others, bonded by love to others.

The real us, the true us, the full us we were created to be only matures into who we’re to be as we are united together in love to others. I am only the ‘Mickey’ God made me to be through being the ‘Mickey’ who is Pixie’s husband, and Sarah and Natalie and Mary and Mickey Jr and Olivia and Benny’s dad, and the grandfather of my 13 grandchildren, etc. Popular contemporary thinking likes to assert that we are our own definition of ourselves, that we can only find happiness if we can be who we are apart from being someone’s spouse or parent, etc, that we can’t love others unless we first love ourselves, etc, etc. There’s a sense in which I find some truth in some recognition of that, but there is a very strong sense in which I, personally, count that to be a bit of horseshit.

We’re not constructed to stand alone, apart – we are designed to be in relationships, in community, in union with others. Certainly if a relationship is unhealthy then it’s not good to be crucially dependent on the bond of that relationship, it’s not good to define yourself by a relationship that is based in selfishness and belligerence – but that doesn’t mean we ought to define ourselves independent of others, apart from relationship, it means we need to fix or end ugly relationships and cultivate relationships based in love. This is perhaps a bold assertion from a high school dropout who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but; the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is selfishness . . . that is what corrupts relationships. How can two separate people with different dispositions and temperaments and coming from different life experiences join together in a beautiful relationship, in true union . . ? . . love is the perfect bond of unity.

As the doctors needed to check her various machines and tubes, etc, and we were all leaving my mother-in-law’s room, I was the last one out as the door was being closed and I heard one of the nurse’s saying “What a special family, she is loved so much”. So, this is what I’m grateful for; I’m grateful that in this life, in this one life I have to live, that as I stood by the bedside of a woman dying, I looked around her bed and I saw a roomful of people loving . . . loving their mother, their grandmother, their great grandmother, and each other. I saw my sons holding their sisters in their arms, I saw husbands who married into this family weeping, I saw one of my sister’s daughters hugging my wife’s sister (I mean, I don’t even know how they’re related).

Nancy Koons Wenrich died. She was 79 years old. That is not sad, everybody dies, that’s part of life . . . it’s sad that we’ll not see her for awhile, it’s sad that we’ll miss her – but her life, the time that she had to live, this woman was surrounded by a remarkable amount of love. Gratitude has to do with taking note of and appreciating those things in your life that you are grateful for, that you are happy about, that provide you joy. Many of us have the inclination to see the bad, the sad, the ugly in things . . . we’re so busy trying to avoid what we don’t like and chasing after what we want that we often feel unhappy, because we’re not appreciating the things we actual do have to be happy about. My little grandson Lincoln died 4 days ago and my wife’s mother and my children’s grandmother died 2 days ago, and that stuff has a sadness to it – but had I not been assigned to write about ‘gratitude’ I would still be writing in some manner about feeling grateful, because . . . I can’t imagine that many people have been so close to so much love as I have been this last week, and I am grateful this one life I have to live is filled with so much love from so many who are so special to me.

If death has truly lost it’s sting,
And takes us to that “better place”;
Why is it sorrow that death does bring,
And tears that trickle down our face?
It’s not the unknown or death we fear,
We don’t need answers or some reason;
It’s that Nancy’s heart is so sweet,
And her face so dear,
That we’ll miss her for a season.

. . . and our guest contributor this month ~


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Comments 34 comments

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Mickey, this is the most beautiful piece I have ever read. I had tears running down my face and a lump in my throat. Not because of your loss, but because of the picture of the love you are constantly surrounded with. You are an amazing man.

My prayers go to your family and my prayers go to those who are not honored to live in love as you live.

For you to feel gratitude in a time of sorrow shows the world just what a special human being you are. I am grateful for having you as a friend!

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Life is the best teacher. Especially when Death knocks on our door, we come to a standstill and realize that we are not grateful enough for being who we are and having what we have. Christianity is supposed to be based on Gratefulness; Christians are supposed to shine with gratefulness because they have already inherited the Kingdom. Do we see them all beaming with gratitude?

You have a beautiful family, Mickey. And I can relate, part of a large, close family myself. We can determine the quality of family bonds - the amount of love that strengthen those bonds - during unfortunate happenings such as sickness and death.

Voted up and touching.

RIP Nancy and Lincoln.

(And now also in HubPages Death took a loved-one away. Just after you've published, Mickey, we received news of 50 Caliber aka Dusty's death.)

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


I knew this would be is your best piece of writing in my opinion.

May your family continue to surround you in love. You are always in my thoughts. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mickey this honest, heartfelt, heartwrenching take on life is beautifully written. My heart goes out to you and your family with the recent event and I Know for certain..with all the love and closeness there will be healing too and looking to the future without forgetting the past. Hugs to all of you.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

bravewarrior ~ you are so much more sweet to me than is reasonable . . . thank you so much for your continued interest to read my efforts here at HubPages and your faithfulness at leaving glowing reviews.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

What a loving tribute to your loving family, Mickey. I don't know you very well, but I feel such rapport and kinship - to you and your family, now.

Through the losses you look at the blessings and feel gratitude as well as wisdom in understanding that life has a beginning, a duration and an end. The duration is where we can realize our purpose and form loving relationships and become, in a sense, immortal. But while we live, it's a mortal life and I think that means it's one full of relationships, feelings, ideas, highs and lows, and change, rather than fixity, because every moment of LIFE is in flux and can go any of a myriad of ways. It's what we bring to those directions which make them live for us!

Thank you for sharing such intimate and beautiful details of your family and the life within it. May Nancy and little Lincoln rest in peace.

Hugs. I'm grateful for you and wonderful people like you!!

ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

i am...sobbing...speechless...sorry...

Mickey - i am without words about your terrible losses. I am also in absolute awe of your strength, composure, and leadership qualities. I can only hope to emulate your grace under fire when and if i am ever in a similar position..

A great man i used to know was very fond of saying: It's not what life throws at you - it's how you handle it that defines you!

You handle it with strength and calm - and THEN you write this incredible hub!

Sending positive, clean karma to you and yours...

HLPhoenix profile image

HLPhoenix 4 years ago

I'm overwhelmed by the love emanating from your Hub... tears fill my eyes and my heart aches for your losses, yet you have put into words what I have always felt... if you really believe that your loved ones have gone to be with God... then yes, you are sad for yourself, that you will not have the joy of their presence... but you also know that they are where they are supposed to be. This should bring peace to those left behind, as it has so certainly done for you... I am grateful to have read your Hub.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

MartieCoetser ~ "Do we see them all beaming with gratitude?"

I saw a good many so beaming the other day, as their mother/grandmother was dying before them . . . that was kind of the word of the day, 'gratitude'. But sadly, 'Christianity' has come to mean something else altogether for many people. In order for one's Christianity to have 'gratefulness' at it's base, it needs to have God's grace as it's source . . . the religion called 'Christianity' offers nothing more than any other empty man-made religion of rules and false hopes - authentic Christianity, new life in Jesus and union with the one true God, builds on nothing but grace, gratitude, mercy, trust, joy, etc . . . when you meet those people, coming in the name of Jesus, that's when to consider what Christianity really is and who God really is and what He really expects from us and calls us to.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Docmo ~ your comments have come to carry a great deal of weight with me, and so I very much appreciate when you give time to my hubs and leave such favorable reviews. Thank you.

Barb Criss 4 years ago

I agree, this is your most beautiful piece ever. I felt every word you wrote; I was looking at the cut-out box house, I felt the sorrow of losing Lincoln. I watched your family as they said good-bye to their mother, grandmother, great grandmother, I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt the power of your love and gratitude.. for life, for love, for family, for God. I am most moved by your humbleness, and your honesty. I am proud and blessed to have you as a friend, and offer up prayers of comfort, strength and sweet, sweet love.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Mickey, thank you for your profound reply on my comment. I agree with you. The proof - literally beaming with gratitude, respect and love for fellowman - will always be in the pudding. Too often we even surprise ourselves with a total ungodly/unJesus response on reality. May you always be proud of your responses, and especially during this crucial time saying your final goodbyes to a remarkable woman. Much condolences to you and your lovely family :)

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Maria ~ you're the one who's special . . . I'm endlessly glad that we're doing this together.

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

MickeySr. my condolences to you for these terrible loses. To gather your thoughts on gratitude at a time of such stress goes to your character. Your family could not be prouder of you.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Nellieanna ~ thank you for the visit ad for leaving such an encouraging comment . . . needless to say, when you write something this personal and immediate, favorable feedback is special. Thanks.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

ImKarn23 - you are far too generous in your appraisal of me, but I very much appreciate the kind words . . . now, no more crying, I'm helpless around beautiful women in tears and I've got stuff to do. The funeral is tomorrow.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

You be strong for that gorgeous lady who will be hurting big time, cueball.

Your adoring lady friends at HP are always here to keep you strong.

Seriously, my thoughts are with you and yours. Love, Maria

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Mickey.....I am not part of your family....but I believe I just now became a member of your enormous circle of love......which really sort of makes us all related, dear, sweet Mickey. My heart is as heavy as if I was there with all of you, feeling the sadness..and yet, as you so eloquently put it, feeling such gratitude for the grace and beauty your loved ones brought to your lives.

This is so touching and profound, I am holding back tears I offer my hand in friendship and my sincerest sympathies for your losses......I am grateful for you and your family, Mickey that you will always have wonderful and fond memories and best of all....each other.........UP++++ & shared.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

HLPhoenix ~ I am overwhelmed by your connection to my sentiments expressed in this. very personal, hub . . . thanks so much for taking the time to, besides reading, leaving such an encouraging comment.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Barb ~ unless Pixie or my kids leave any comments here, yours mean more to me than anyone's, thank you.

(Barb is my 1st wife)

teresapelka profile image

teresapelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

You say you're scheduled to write about gratefulness and you say this is the life you have to live. You're very honest on the impossibility to have a funeral for a family occasion. :)

elle64 profile image

elle64 4 years ago from Scandinavia

I am grateful for that beautiful hub

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

teresapelka ~ "You're very honest on the impossibility to have a funeral for a family occasion"

I'm sorry - I don't understand what that means . . ?

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

mckbirdbks ~ thanks for the visit and comment, and today - happy Thanksgiving.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

fpherj48 ~ you're the best, I look forward to your comments always (now, you read all my other hubs and leave equally glowing reviews). And, you're our next partner in this, right . . ? . . or is the one after next?

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I shall read all of your other hubs.....because when I grow up, I want to be just like you.

If I'm not mistaken, I'm scheduled for February? I need to check on that, now that you have mentioned it.

However, Mickey, my man, I am destined to crash on the couch, so that Thanksgiving dinner is allowed to form on my hips.......and then there will be space enough for dessert. .......Oink......Paula

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

elle64 ~ thanks so much for visiting and commenting, I genuinely appreciate it.

freedomspirit 4 years ago

Beautiful hub, glad to have read it. My life is terribly sad because i have a big family but not consumptive and i want to make my own, just waiting. blessings to u, we all have different challenges and you're pretty amazing!

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

freedomspirit ~ thank you . . . because this is such a personal hub, it's very encouraging when folks visit and leave favorable comments.

freedomspirit 3 years ago

Yes, thank you for that tip, I'm learning to listen better, I used to be so consumed in my misery and depression. thank you.

I learned something from you.

God bless you today and always

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

The perspective theme is revolting yet inspirational. I loved the story of your life...sure it had it's ups and downs but you and your family survived it, and made you all close to each other...yeah!

I would like to contribute something towards this perspective theme and as to what I has to be chosen to deliver this powerful message? The theme is decided by you all?

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 3 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Ruchira ~ thank you for your favorable comment. This 'Gratitude' theme was from November, we just published our December theme 'Charity And It's Fruits', a few days ago . . . our next theme will be published January 15th on the theme 'Regret And Hope' with pherj48 joining us as our guest contributor. Any and all hubbbers are encouraged to volunteer themselves as one of our guest contributors, either as you did here in the comments section or by contacting me privately (by clicking the 'fan mail' button on my profile page and then clicking 'Send MickeySr an email). We can have more than one guest writer for each theme, next (as I said) is January's 'Regret And Hope' and then February's 'Loneliness' themes. Please do email me if you (anyone) are interested.

Vickiw 3 years ago

Hi Mickey, this was such a powerful, beautifully written account of equally beautiful thoughts and love. If only everyone could realize that it is love that is the greatest leveller, the greatest denominator, and the greatest healer, our society would be very different. Thank you for writing this, it is truly memorable.

MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 3 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Vickiw ~ "it is love that is the greatest leveller, the greatest denominator, and the greatest healer" . . . I feel so longwinded and my attempt seems so convoluted when you put it so succinctly yet beautifully - thank you for your visit and favorable review.

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