How I was Reminded About Gratitude

I am grateful for the many good things that are part of my life. And, while I do my best to reflect an attitude of gratitude, I recently heard a story that truly put everything into perspective.

The story came a few weeks ago from a neurosurgeon I only knew as the result of a breakfast conversation at a B & B where we were both staying.


It started as the result of a conversation with the doctor about the nature of the Jewish community who supported the hospital where he worked. He talked about what he saw as a common desire among them to leave a legacy even though it sometimes meant sacrificing their own needs.

To illustrate his point the doctor told the story of a 92 year old patient who he had examined a number of years ago. As he was doing so he noticed the numbered tattoo that signified she had been a prisoner held in a concentration camp. When he asked about it, she replied that she had been held prisoner during World War II in a camp near Stalingrad.

He continued his examination of her only to find both of her upper arms were crisscrossed with uneven scars and cuts. Seeing that some kind of mutilation had taken place, he asked her what had happened.

She looked at him and replied that the scars had occurred during her imprisonment in the camp when she had “fed her children”.

Somewhat puzzled, the doctor looked at her and asked, “What do you mean, you fed your children?” 

The woman went on to explain that when they ran out of food supplies, they slaughtered the cattle and pigs and then the dogs. Then they cut up, boiled, and ate the corpses of those who had died. When there was nothing else left to eat, she sliced the skin off her own arms and “fed her children”.

The story moved me to tears and left me with a profound understanding that while I could clearly never fathom the hardships or sacrifices that woman had endured, what I did have was so much more than enough.This Thanksgiving I will count my many blessings with a heightened and profound sense of gratitude. 

Posted on 10-12-15

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