Goodness, Grace and Gratitude

He felt a little off and thought he might be coming down with a flu bug.

Sturdy and healthy in his appearance, his lifestyle choices had improved greatly since he and my mother moved into together some twelve years ago.  He came to the relationship after losing his wife to cancer.  She, after leaving an unhappy marriage of 47 years.  He managed to resist her attempts to get him to eat vegetables – except for green onions, or give up his nightly drink of scotch or occasional cigar. But ultimately what was of most importance was that Joe and my mother Wilma were joined in a relationship that was the envy of many. Joe referred to my mother as his “bride” and brought her flowers almost every week.She could never get over how good he was to her.

As Nana and Papa Joe, they embraced one another’s family as their own. They truly enjoyed each other’s company whether it was taking care of their grandchildren, attending cultural and learning events, volunteering, and keeping busy with a large circle of friends and an active social calendar.

Yet ten days ago, Joe kissed his bride goodnight – on the forehead so she wouldn’t catch his bug – rolled over, went to sleep, had a massive heart attack, and, at the age of 74 never woke up.

Given the sudden and traumatic nature of his death, our family joined forces with friends to form a loving circle of support for our dear sweet mother. To everyone’s surprise, including her own, she is doing remarkably well. For sure she has had ups and downs that will no doubt continue for some time, but she is sustained by the strength she is gathering from the loving prayers and thoughts being sent her way.

Always very spiritual, she knows her beloved “honey” is still with her, albeit in another dimension. She continues to reiterate how blessed she is to be surrounded by so much love and to have had 12 blissful years with her Joe.

So while her sadness is palpable, she believes things are unfolding as they were meant to be. She says it is how Joe would have wanted to leave this life, and she knows that although it will be hard, she will be okay.

The odds are that she will indeed be okay because an “attitude of gratitude” is a powerful contributor to a happy life. Some believe that it may be the single most effective way to increase happiness. New research shows that practicing gratitude may be the fastest single pathway to happiness, health, long life, and prosperity. People, like my Mom, who count their blessings and take the time to notice and appreciate the good things that come their way are happier and more peaceful. Gratitude is one powerful emotion.

Despite her loss my mother continues to be the stellar and inspirational role model for goodness, grace, and gratitude she has always been. In a world where there often seems to be a gratitude deficit, my mother remains able to view life as a loving gift and glass of water half full. 

So Mom, know that the loving thoughts and prayers of your family and many friends continue to be with you, and that your Joe is raising his half full glass in a toast to you, his dream bride, for the love and happiness you had together.

Posted on 04-01-12


We are so sorry for the loss of your step father, Brenda.  And are equally inspired by the grace and the strength that your mother has shown during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with you both.

•Posted by Janet Naclia  on  04/02/12  at  11:40 AM


Dear Brenda,
a moving and inspiring story.  Thank you for sharing with us.  Hugs to you and to your mother and family.  I recently, read a statement by a 90 year old woman who is in an assisted living residence.  She said, “I have four walls around me, meals to share with others, and people who care for me.  How can I not be happy?”  She went on to say that she believes it is every individual’s responsibility to be as happy as possible every day.  Your mother obviously lives and breathes this belief.

•Posted by Barb Pedersen  on  04/02/12  at  01:11 PM



This piece reflects the love and respect you have for your mom and her “honey”. Once again I was moved by your eloquent words and understanding of gratitude. You and your mom are in my thoughts.


•Posted by Rose  on  04/03/12  at  11:58 AM

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