Cancer with a SMILE

Happy 2012!

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than by describing a poignant moment of inspiration in my life – a moment that has stuck with me for nearly 40 years.

It was the mid 1970’s and I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember walking into a room to visit the older brother of a close childhood friend as he was very sick with cancer. I had never known a young person who was severely ill so I was understandably nervous.

The next moment shocked me.

He greeted me with a big smile as if we were buddies who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. It was nothing less than one of the happiest smiles that I can ever remember and an extremely positive visit.  Here was a 14 year old teenager with cancer, smiling at me. It put me at ease immediately.

I don’t recall much about our conversation or who was in the room although that SMILE looms large and has been a wonderful force in my life. That smile confirmed to me what had been evident during his healthy times – what a fine young man he was.  Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer not long after.

Over the years, I have thought about that smile when times have been tough although most often, the moment has just popped into my mind to give me a dose of inspiration or to let me know that nothing is worth complaining about.

This is the first time that I have shared this memory in abundance. I only told my mother (he was her godson) about it recently.  I don’t think I ever really knew until now just how important that moment was for me.

I can’t say for sure although I think it has helped me to become a patient man, a giving man and a loving man. In addition, I rarely complain so I must attribute that in some form or fashion to the visit.

If there is one thing that most of us can do better in 2012, it would probably be to live life more positively, increase our patience and lessen our complaints. I have worked hard to evolve into the good man that I am despite the impatience and stubbornness of my early twenties although there is still work to be done. We can always improve upon who we are and how we live our lives.

Maybe you have a similar moment in your life? If so, hold onto it and cherish it. It may be the key to helping you evolve into a better person.

Cancer with a SMILE.  It’s a day I’ll never forget.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

 A lovely picture from my hometown in Pennsylvania!

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