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Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.
Albert Einstein

The quote above to me is so poignant. I truly believe though that it must become second nature to be a man or woman of value and you need to instill that from within.

I still remember the day that I almost lost my dad back in July of 1996. He suffered a heart attack and his heart stopped beating, but the doorman at the Fairmont Hotel broke into his car and started his heart beating. My father remained in a coma for two weeks (yes during the Atlanta Olympic Games) before coming out of it. My father suffered some brain damage (loss of oxygen to the brain) which caused him the loss of short term memory and often caused him to lose orientation of what year it was. It was almost like Alzheimers except some new memories were created and he only forgot the things that didn’t matter to him.

My mother refused to put him in a home and acted as his primary caregiver for the next 10 years. Although he was never the same person again, I am so happy that his near death kick-started me into having a family and grandchildren that he got to meet and know. He continued to to teach me new lessons even then.

One of those was that my dad lost his ability filter his thoughts. He did not hold back his feelings about things, people or situations. Just imagine if you just started telling everyone what you thought of them. Well, my dad was pure. He smiled at people he didn’t recognize and even at people I thought he didn’t care for. Later I would ask who they were and he said, “I thought you knew”. When my mom would drag him to flower shows I’d ask him how it was. He’d say it was really boring but my mom seemed to enjoy it. He never had a bad thing to say. He was just naturally a positive and gentle person. His illness was a truth serum that some couldn’t handle. We saw others with the same problem who became vicious towards family and friends. An old co-worker of his pulled me aside at his Life Celebration and said, “I knew your dad didn’t recognize me, but that twinkle in his eye and his smile were still the same. He made even strangers feel special.”

It really taught me to seek the kindness in others and to see things first with an eye towards the positive. We are often taught to be protective and cautious and I realize that can really hide the opportunities that you might be offered. There are never enough favors that you can give or thank yous that you can say. My dad was definitely a man of value. A man who valued the relationships and loves in his life so much that it was instinctive.

After a while it should just come naturally. I often hear about how people say how hard it must have been to take care of my wife during those days after surgery and those long weeks of waiting. I think my love for my wife made me her natural caregiver. I knew that it was just the thing to do. Put my fears and hopes aside to be all that I could for my wife. I think having been a caregiver for my dad those years, watching my mother care for her husband (yes they argued, but they loved each other), and then caring for my mother during her cancer gave me a little headstart in caregiving, but not much. The most inspiration though came from the relationship, the strong relationship, I have with my wife. They say your true colors come out when you have times of crisis. I think I showed myself my own true colors and I’m proud of what I saw.

I mention this because in the book I read, My Life with Laura, my friend Chad showed his true colors as well. Although he had only known his wife a few short years, his dedication showed the love of a lifetime. I have read stories about those who don’t get support from their husbands or family members during these times and I think that might just show a crack in the armour that had been there already. My wife and I have a few cracks especially when it comes to communication. And it definitely showed a bit when we had some intense moments, but our love was and is strong.

I know I’ve written about this before in bits and pieces, but I have to repeat these mantras occasionally. I listened to our new President’s speech about strength and fortitude and the need to test ourselves in the worst of times. Now is when I really am testing myself. I already see these next several months are going to be tough on me for different reasons than health.

In the end I just need to make sure that I find myself as a person of value and to instill that upon my life on a daily basis.