The Pleasant List

I went to dinner the other night with two girlfriends.  The experience in and of itself was very pleasant.  Due to all the craziness in my life currently, I don’t get out very often.  My husband is very ill with chronic Lyme disease and is currently on short-term disability.  These days he is having trouble breathing, walking, and interacting with his family.  He has a tracheostomy and a feeding tube.  Life is not the same as it was prior to the illness, but we are making it work and my husband is getting stronger slowly but surely.  Still, the idea of going out on the town for an evening is not usually on my radar.

Although we have much help from wonderful family and friends during the day, and with nurses coming during the night shift, I still work full-time and am raising two children.  I have a lot on my plate.  Feeling like I am constantly moving at 100 mph from one thing to another, without much time to digest and think about things, it really was a pleasure arriving at the restaurant to two smiling faces, a glass of wine, and the ability to eat a nice dinner without sweet children trying to sit on my lap, or trying to out-do one another in order to gain my attention by talking in their “outside voices”.

It was during this dinner that one of my friends was honoring one of her friends who had passed away about 5 years ago.  Her friend was far too young to have died from cancer, but it was evident this person had a lasting impact on her friends and family.  As my friend was explaining the wisdom of her co-worker, she told of how this person would write lists at a fairly regular pace.  She would list “positive attributes” of others and “why I like you” to others.  She would give these lists to her colleagues and friends and they would often keep them in their possession, as my friend does.  How wonderful to be able to take out a little sheet of paper, perhaps when you are feeling down, and be reminded of your strengths.

This led me to recall the Christmas gifts I gave my sisters, brother-in-laws, and mother several years ago.  When my husband first started getting ill about 3 years ago, we were financially strapped with medical bills.  Even though we have medical insurance, there was still so much they didn’t cover or denied us.  One of my sisters thought having the Christmas season as a “standby” year was a good idea.  Still, I wanted to give my family, who had been giving me so much by helping in various ways, something special.  I decided to type up “words” that spoke of them.  Each word I choose was very deliberate.  The word had be descriptive of their personality, or it had to remind me of them for some direct reason.  Some of the words were dead “give-aways”, but others you would have to consider a little longer as to why I choose them.  I placed these words on a decorative piece of paper and laminated them.  After wrapping them up and sending them along, I hoped, just as my friend’s friend probably did, that these words would remind my family of their strengths.  I’m not sure what impact my gift had on them, if they return to their lists when feeling down, or if the list brings a smile to their faces on occasion.  I do know though that I was able to tell them in my own way what I thought of them and how they are important to me.  That was a gift to me in and of itself.

Try this activity.  Whether you decide to write down reasons your loved one is special to you or whether you decide to use simple words to capture the essence of your loved one, it is important to let these people know they are special and that they know you care about them.  What a pleasant experience.


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