It’s funny how things change. By ‘things’ I guess I really mean me. Used to be I started making up my Christmas list sometime around Halloween. I’d even divide it neatly into sections for books, music, video games and gadgets. But I’ve noticed the last few years that it’s getting harder and harder to come up with stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the two Great Danes and a little cottage by the beach will always be on the list but this year the thing I want most is something only God can give me. More than anything, I want to be thankful for cookies.
I’ve been going in to St. Vincent’s Cancer Center for the past six months for treatment for my RA. I don’t like hospitals and needles freak me out. But this drug has worked well and since I’m rather fond of moving without too much pain, not to mention being able to see, I’ve learned to deal – more or less. Actually, it’s been quite learning experience. Seems the world won’t come to a crashing halt because I spent several hours sitting still. The stuff that needs to get done still gets done. It just gets done a little slower. I probably read more now than I have since before the kids were born. And I people watch, or more precisely I people listen. Despite having glass walls on three sides, I still hear little bits and pieces of stories from the people around me in the infusion center.
Last week there was an elderly woman next to me. Her husband had wheeled her in shortly after I got there. He helped her into the chair while she was chatting away and joking with the volunteers and the nurses. Then he fluffed her pillows, parked the wheelchair, fetched her water, put her feet up and fussed over her until he ran out of things to fuss over. She thanked him for every little thing he did. Then the nurse came around to prep her port for the infusion and to offer them lunch. The nurse had saved the last of the molasses cookies off the lunch cart for her, knowing they were her favorite. She squealed like a little girl. The nurse brought over lunch and went off to call down for her medications. Once the nurse had walked away, this incredible lady and her husband started to pray aloud. She gave thanks for the port that was working well, the wonderful nurses taking care of her, the blue sky and the list went on until, at last, she came to the cookies. She was going to spend the rest of the afternoon hooked up to an IV drip and she was thankful for molasses cookies.
Across from her was a man who came in alone. They couldn’t start his infusion right away because his blood pressure was too low. The nurses told him they need to get his pressure up a bit and went to get him some fluids, thinking perhaps he was dehydrated. While he waited, he pulled out his cell phone. I couldn’t hear the conversation but the tone of voice said plenty. He was in a foul mood and whoever he was talking to was getting an earful. When the nurse came back, he snarled at her, “Well you told me we need to get my blood pressure up so I called my ex-wife. That’ll do it every time.” But the sad thing was he wasn’t kidding. Over the next hour, he never once had anything good to say to the nurses or the volunteers.
For me, sitting there listening to the two them was one of those rare moments of clarity. I was praying, without even realizing it at first, to be like that lovely lady next to me. Right now, I’m doing pretty well and most days its not too hard to be thankful but when the stuff hits the fan – and I know sooner or later it will – I want to be cheerful. I want to be appreciative. And no matter what comes, I want to be thankful for the simple joy of cookies.