Editorials by Robert Kirwan

The Next Time I Think I Have Anything to Complain About…   
   It never ceases to amaze me that people who have been through some of the most horrendous challenges this world can throw at them seem to have the most positive outlook towards life. I met a wonderful lady the other day who taught me a great deal about what it means to live one day at a time and how happy you can be if you focus on what is truly important.
   Her name is Gail Leroux. She is from Capreol and was in a car accident when she was only 16 years old. The accident left her with broken bones in 108 different places and a life with over 50 operations. She’s been in and out of a wheelchair for most of her life and has been free from painkillers for only a couple of years. I’ve never seen her without a smile and she says she is so happy to have her husband and her faith that she wouldn’t change a thing about her life. Right now, her goals are to help raise funds for the March of Dimes and to one day travel by wheelchair from
Sudbury to Saskatchewan and back.
  I can not imagine how I could have personally survived the life she has been through. And yet, I think I understand why she is so happy. I think I understand how others who have been through what most of us would consider a very ‘unfair’ life of pain and suffering still manage to live each day to the fullest. It’s all a matter of perception.
A matter of how you look at life itself. A matter of being thankful that you are alive.
   At times we look at people like Gail and feel sorry for them, wishing that we could do something to help them get through their difficulties. But in many cases, it is the very people who seem to be the most unfortunate who are the rich ones. They are the ones who see life through different eyes, choosing to be thankful for what they have instead of feeling sorry for themselves.

Take for example the story about the old man who showed up at the back door of a house rented by a couple of college students. As the students cracked open the door, they saw that his eyes were glassy and his face unshaven. He said hello to them and offered to sell them some apples and oranges he was carrying in an old basket. Although they had all the fruit they needed already, the students made a purchase, mostly because they felt pity for the old man and partly because they were afraid of him.

The visits became more regular. The students began to realize the glaze on his eyes was the result of cataracts, not alcohol. They became accustomed to sound of his shuffling feet every morning. Sometimes he wore mismatched shoes. He would often pull out a harmonica and begin playing sad, gospel tunes in the middle of conversations with the students.

The students realized that the old man didn’t have many friends. Perhaps they were the only people who paid any attention to him. He showed them the old shack where he lived and continued to sell apples and oranges to the students almost every single day.
   On one visit he said to the students, "What a day! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch."

The students celebrated with him, not letting on that it was they who had purchased the shoes and clothes and placed them on the porch as a gift. They wanted to remain anonymous.

"We’re really glad for you," they exclaimed.

Then the old man added, "You know what’s even more wonderful? Just yesterday I met some people who could really use them."
   The old man enjoyed the life he was living and was grateful for the shoes, clothing and friendships he had with others. He was thankful for the opportunity to share his good fortune with someone less fortunate than himself.
   Gail Leroux enjoys the life she is living and is grateful for her husband, her faith, singing in the church choir and her friendships with people like 84-year old Gerty Burnett. She is thankful for the opportunity to do something to help out the March of Dimes.
   Many of us will complain about having to walk so far through a crowded parking lot to get to the store, while others will never walk again. Others will be upset that they couldn’t fit into the expensive dress they saw in the fashion store the other day, while others will be trying to find enough money to buy new snow shoes for their little daughter.
   There is certainly a lot to complain about today, but there is also a lot to be thankful for. Usually, when we take the time to recognize our blessings, our troubles don’t seem quite so large.
   I’m glad I met Gail Leroux. I’ll think about her the next time I think I have anything to complain about.
   Have a good week!

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