A man with headphones stands with his dog, surrounded by trees and mountains as music notes float across the landscape.

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m writing on April 16th, 2020, the second anniversary of my robotic prostatectomy which followed by a few months of cervical spine surgery, which was preceded by heart problems, a heart attack, and a couple of stents. Medically speaking, the 2010s were not the best decade of my life. Since my prostate cancer surgery and recovery, I’ve occasionally joked about what health challenge would be coming next. I was ready for anything!

When life throws us a curveball

What I wasn’t ready for was a worldwide pandemic, one that has, or will, affect virtually everyone on the planet. So far I’ve not had COVID-19. What I have had is plenty of time to think about the good, sometimes very small, things in my life for which I am immensely grateful.

So to celebrate two years with nearly undetectable PSA, and the fact that I’ve survived some major health challenges, here are some of the things that contribute to my attitude of gratitude.

Grateful for my family everyday

My amazing wife of almost 39 years, Melinda, who has turned pandemic cooking into an art form. I look in the refrigerator and see paint. She looks in the refrigerator and sees a masterpiece. I’m living with a food genius.

My three sons, their partners, our grandchildren. All are healthy and thriving, if not without challenges, during this difficult time. Two work from home, one was laid off. My oldest son and his wife are doing research projects with their two young children. And both of the children shed their training wheels on the same day when they would otherwise have been at school. My youngest son plays endless games with his two-year-old. They have adopted superhero names. He’s Captain Daddy and she’s Super Sweetie. My middle son, the one who was laid off, is painting the new home he and his partner moved into shortly after stay-at-home orders were announced.

My dog, Kona. Almost every morning we’re out the door before 6:30 for a two-mile walk. I’ve been appreciating our neighborhood with new eyes and ears, especially the birds and birdsong, the quiet, the masked healthcare professionals I see reporting for work when we walk through the hospital parking lot. The cleaner than usual air. The beautiful mountains that surround our town. Nothing has changed for Kona: lots to smell and...squirrel!

Time to refocus on my passions

Music. I never take it for granted, but somehow right now it packs more power, activates more emotion. Has Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” ever had more meaning? Has John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” ever caused more yearning? YouTube the live Tedeschi Trucks Band version of “Midnight in Harlem” from 2012. Such a beautiful groove, such soul. I dare you not to get a little misty as you listen.

All my senior friends, especially the guys in my book group, the Short Attention Span Book Club. Twelve guys, nine hundred years of accumulated life experience, wicked senses of humor. We can handle this.

We're all in this together

Who knows when all of this will end, what the final damage will be. But here is one thing I do know: “We’re all in this together” is no longer a cliché. It is a matter of life and death. I’m so grateful for how we’ve risen to the challenge. I will work hard to do what I can, to maintain my “attitude of gratitude.” It will do me no harm.

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