Tuesday, September 5, 2023


By Pam Baker

        The evening news is depressing.  There is so much tragedy in the world and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, so although I know it is “wrong”, I choose not to watch the news.  But since my husband watches it daily, I can hear it from any room in the house; therefore, I do know what is going on whether I want to or not.  I hear about the wildfire in the paradise of Hawaii, destroying countless acres of beauty and, even worse, many people’s lives and homes along with all their possessions.   

        I hear about fires on America’s west coast, raging forest fires, devouring beautiful National Parks, gorgeous mountainsides, and again, the homes and possessions of the unfortunate people who happen to live in the fire’s path.  Hurricanes bombard our coastlines, wreaking havoc and destruction wherever they touch.  They interview the people who have lost everything and most are in tears or in shock. 

         I look around at my beautiful home, decorated with both costly items and monetarily worthless items that are very precious to me.  My home is safe today and I feel lucky.

        One of my sisters recently retired, finally able to spend her days however she wished, something all working people look forward to.  She was finally able to spend her days with her husband of 41 years instead of kissing him good bye every morning not seeing him for about 10 hours.  They could go boating, take walks through their woods, go down to the river and observe the eagles who had nested there.  They could stay up late eating popcorn and watching movies because no alarm clock was going to demand they get out of bed the next day at an early hour.  They were happy.  Then one day he went to the doctor because of shoulder pain and heard the word we all dread – cancer.  Six weeks later, he was gone and my sister’s life is now devoid of joy.  As she puts it, the color had faded from her life.

        Another sister suffered a similar misfortune.  She and her husband worked hard to provide a good home and good education to their three children.  After years of struggle and hard work, the children had all graduated from college and gone successfully into the world, and their beautiful home was paid for.  Now they could relax a bit and just enjoy each other and a less complicated life.  Far before retirement age, this dream was destroyed.   One beautiful summer morning after kissing my sister good bye, her husband headed off to a job he loved and never made it there, his life taken in a tragic biking accident.  My sister now fills her days with work, church, and her new obsession with physical fitness.  But each night she crawls into her king-sized bed alone.

        Another sister of mine struggled her whole adult life, raising her three children alone and she did a fantastic job.  My children grew up way too fast, but it seemed like hers were young forever.  But suddenly one day they were adults, married and out on their own.  My sister breathed a sigh of relief, free at last to focus on her wants and desires instead of her children’s.  She was blessed with grandchildren and could not have been any happier.  And then the Sheriff came to the door one night.  His conversation began with “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but…”  With this, her world collapsed.  Her only son had been struck and killed by a hit and run driver.  He was buried on his 24th birthday. 

        I look around at my life.  My husband is sitting right here this evening smiling at me.  My three sons are healthy and happy, all with good families, good jobs, and good friends.  I feel lucky.

        My only brother is two years older than me.  Although we live in different states 500 miles apart, we are still close.  I love my brother. He recently went to the doctor because of balance issues and was diagnosed with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus.  This disease also causes a myriad of other problems, dementia being one, and it is incurable.  The only treatment option is an operation installing a pump and shunt into the brain and draining off the excess fluid through a tube routed through the body from the brain to the abdomen.  Caught early, it can usually correct the balance issue, but the other issues may or may not improve.  Luckily, it WAS caught early and the operation seems to have been a success so far.  My brother loves nothing more than to travel and take countless photographs of the beauty in our world.  He spent his whole life working, looking forward to retirement when he could travel wherever and whenever he chose.  Hopefully this may still be possible with limitations, but there is no guarantee.    

        People my age usually begin to have health problems, but so far, I am perfectly healthy.  I feel lucky.

        We all value our homes and possessions.  We value our loved ones, especially our spouses and children.  And although we usually don’t appreciate it until it is gone, we value our good health.  But do we truly appreciate any or all of these on a daily basis?

        My point to all of this?  We all get up every morning and bumble through our days, not appreciating what we have, complaining about trivial things, being bored, being depressed, when we have no reason to be.  No one’s life is perfect, we all have our problems.  But we all need to wake up and appreciate what we DO have.  We should appreciate our health.  We should appreciate every single thing we have – no matter how large or small.  And most of all, we should appreciate the fact that our loved ones are still with us.  At any given moment, it could all disappear. 

        I am lucky and I know it.  I want all of you to realize that no matter how many problems you have, that you are lucky, too.

      Pam's poems and stories are published in several of the Guild’s anthologies. The Adventures of Petey is her first children's book. She is currently working on the next book which will continue Petey's happy life.

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  1. Your reflections on your life reminds us all that whatever life brings there are still blessings. Good essay.

  2. Life is precious, cherish every moment. God bless you, Pamela and thank you for the reminders.