It is only in the last 10 years or so that I have begun to feel truly grateful. Before that I felt entitled. Certainly not by being born white or Jewish, or the daughter of Holocaust refugees. But I felt that the good things in my life came to me because of my efforts. Either my parents or I had worked hard to achieve them or to deserve them. I felt I was the passive recipient of good genes. I earned good grades in school. I learned how to be a patient and kind teacher and a listening psychologist. I read and worked hard at being a good wife and a good parent.
On the other hand, when hard times occurred, disappointments in relationships, or jobs or when I experienced losses, I had the feeling I was being punished for perceived failures. By not living up to the standards that were set for me, I had let myself and others down and consequently had "earned" the failures I encountered.
I also never believed in luck. I can't gamble; I am too afraid of losing.
And since I was born on the cusp of the Second World War, I studied about God and learned the language of the prayers and observed the rituals of my religion, but I never trusted in a personal God who would be there to help me in any way.
So what changed?
I was faced with a problem that could not be fixed by my efforts or anyone else's efforts. The fact that my husband developed Alzheimer's disease could not be attributed to any fault of mine, to any misbehavior or lack of concern, love or effort. His illness was not a punishment to him or to his family or to me. It just was.
Alzheimer's disease transformed me, made me realize how lucky indeed I am and how we are not in total control of our lives. Even though I exercise and watch my weight, I am grateful each day to wake up healthy. I am grateful for the sun when it shines and for the rain. I am grateful for my children and grandchildren who are healthy and thriving. I appreciate my friends wth whom I can share a meal or an event, a greeting or a conversation.Thank you for being there.