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Just a Guy Who Is Very Grateful

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A bar mitzvah opened my eyes.

Father hugging son

Bruce Sallan: I attended the bar mitzvah of a friend's son recently. This young man has some relatively severe learning disabilities. Yet, his parents provided him with the sort of support that was full of love and understanding for him. The rabbi adjusted the service to allow him full participation -- within his limits -- and it was as loving a rite of passage as possible, with an equally classy and terrific party afterward.

Even the weather cooperated, as their theme was a rainbow, and at just the right moment, with all of the guests gathered outside, the rabbi asked us to turn around. We saw the setting sun actually make a slight rainbow, as if Industrial Light & Magic were hired to create it.

It was a beautiful event, but I couldn't help but be reminded of how lucky I am to have two boys without any apparent disabilities other than being teenagers. All joking aside, I am sincerely grateful for this good fortune of mine when I see so much hardship and trouble in the world, as well as have friends who struggle with real issues with their children -- like this friend.

Another of our friends that attended this truly joyous event has a child with a serious childhood disease that is largely incurable, so they live with constant fear, doctor's appointments, and occasional hospitalizations for their son.

What do I deal with? Well, I struggle with my older son not doing his chores. My younger son likes to question me on everything I ask of him. Both boys don't eat their vegetables, keep their rooms as clean as they should, or go to bed exactly at their bedtimes. But we are lucky -- and I should know. I'm just a guy.


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14 comments so far | Post a comment now
denise November 7, 2009, 6:50 AM

With Thanksgiving coming up, you’re right on the mark Bruce. I almost cried reading this blog. Thanks (I think).

Wendi November 7, 2009, 8:48 AM

Well put!! I think that so many people take for granted their healthy children. I think we all need to enjoy our kids more and think less of our selves and what the kids need to accomplish. Just have some fun with them and enjoy the fact that they are ABLE to do the activities that they are doing.

Lisa November 7, 2009, 10:44 AM

Loved it! One of my sons was born with a disability this almost made me cry too. I am grateful for the disability my son does have b/c it has really opened up my eyes to something I never even thought about, or what my son or other people in his situation have to go thru. Thanks for sharing!
I don’t know if this weird that I want to share this in the comments of your blog Bruce, but I loved reading this. It help me understand how I was feeling about my childs situation. It by Emily Pearl Kingsley and its called Welcome to Holland.

mindy  November 8, 2009, 11:13 AM

We all have sooooo much to be grateful for ~ even with illness, hardships, and life’s challenges. From the outside, we can never know for sure what goes on in other families’ lives.
We need to constantly count our blessings every day ~
everything is a gift from G-d.

Ari November 9, 2009, 8:43 AM

Though I currently have no children, my finace’ and I will in a matter of a couple of years. I can only hope that the problems we have with them are of the trivial type of not eating their vegtables or cleaning their room’s. I think people often take for granted how well we have it. and how lucky we have it.

Eleanor November 9, 2009, 8:53 PM

Well written along with the blog on swine flu. Although the media overplayed the H1N1 pandemic; it’s nonetheless a pretty scary virus. The fact that the boys were only slightly infected and recovered quickly, give you another reason to be so thankful!!

Anita (England) November 10, 2009, 6:29 AM

Very touching and beautifully told, Bruce. You are right, you do take a deep breath and realise just how lucky you are. I certainly do. And I feel it now having gone through a most horrific trauma. My eldest daughter almost died after taking prescribed medication; something that happens to one in a million people. She was the unlucky one. TENS set in, she blistered all over and she lost 96% of her skin. She was put on a ventilator for twenty-one days inside an isolation bubble. She looked just like a mummy with tubes coming out from everywhere. To bath her, she needed sedating, her bandages took two hours to change – and then it was just complication after complication: septicaemia… you name it. But if it wasn’t for the dedicated, hard working and wonderful staff, I don’t think she would have made it. I thank them still for everything they did for her – in fact; I will never stop. Oh, and I have an autistic son who is the delight of my life. I am one very, very lucky mum.

Bruce Sallan November 10, 2009, 10:08 AM

Anita; You’re an inspiration. I’m so grateful for your post today because I fell into the trap of feeling sorry for myself over some recent stresses in our lives. Your post is the reminder I needed after writing this blog in the first place, but almost forgetting to remember its content. How’s that for a lousy sentence? I hope your daughter continues her recovery and bless all those caregivers.

Ilene November 10, 2009, 11:21 AM

Lovely column, Bruce. You’re right: it’s so important for us to try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, because it truly helps us to be grateful for all the good things we have. But parenting isn’t easy, even with healthy kids, so don’t give yourself a hard for being less than perfect - just keep on fighting the good fight for your boys!

Anita (England) November 10, 2009, 12:45 PM

She is doing wonderfully, thanks to a brilliant burns unit. The skin is an incredible organ that repairs amazingly. She has been told that when her skin is fully recovered, it will be that of a newborn. How wonderful is that? We joke with her and tell her that she is to expect teenage spots in her thirties. She is lovely, and most beautiful of heart. Thank you for posting this blog, Bruce. It truly makes us appreciate what we have … but it also reminds us.

Travis R November 16, 2009, 12:00 PM

This post reminds us all to take nothing for granted. We all have our own personal hardships, but we all need to remember how truly blessed we all are. After a painful knee surgery, and losing the ability to walk for a week and a half, I gained such a new perspective on life. The opinions of Mr. Sallan are so refreshing, in a day where everything feels so negative and quick to judge. Your optimism is contagious!

Loren November 17, 2009, 1:12 PM

Great insight Bruce. I always have to remind myself how lucky we are to have two healthy boys. Parenting is not easy as I continue to learn, but I agree that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. We all make mistakes and the best thing to do is learn from them and do it better next time. Afterall, things could always be worse.

David December 7, 2009, 7:41 PM

Is the PROPER or APPROPRIATE place for sadness or dissatisfaction ONLY extreme circumstances? I agree in principle with all of what I am reading in the post and the comments. But if for whatever reason you have bad feelings or anger or unhappiness, give yourself some time to descend and feel it; and then, yes, focus on how it could be worse … but don’t discount the short-term legitimacy or value of feeling bad for whatever reason.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 9:29 AM

Nice article! Nice to read. There’s a observation to offer about funny t-shirts.


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