Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Gratitude Bracelet

I received a very special gift from a very special person; a bracelet from my aunt. My aunt lives hours away, alone in her house while her gravely ill husband resides in a nearby long term care facility. She suffers from phobias and the ghosts of her past that continue to inflict pain. But she is a survivor.

Her television is her connection to the outside world and the telephone - her lifeline - her connection to the people she loves, and who love her in return. We speak often; our conversations are often playful trips down memory lane to times when life was less complicated and more carefree. However at times they take a turn down darker trails that lead to painful remembrances. But just when it seems she is sinking to another low, her voice perks up and she changes the subject ... the latest drama on Dr. Phil; skincare tips she saw on TV; the meal she is preparing; the music she is enjoying ...

Her childlike curiosity, openness, fascination with and interest in others is both refreshing and at times, unnerving. Nothing is off limits with her. Admittedly there have been times when I was reluctant to take her calls -- especially if they came after I was in bed. They were risky - and could mean an evening spent, phone to ear. But she has been much better these past few years. Her supreme gratitude for every minute we spend with her or thoughtful gesture we extend, far outweigh any effort I make. She craves love, advice and most of all, a caring, listening ear.

With each passing year, our conversations grow more authentic and I have come to realize that I get as much out of our calls she does -- maybe more. She reminds me that I am important to her, and that I can make a small difference in her life. In return, I get the unconditional, enduring love of a strong, resilient warrior woman who shares my blood.

She sent me a bracelet, tightly wrapped in brown paper, with a note enclosed. She called it a golf bracelet, but her note said it was to express her gratitude for me always being there for her. I call it my gratitude bracelet. And I shall cherish it, my heart filled with gratitude to have it - and her.

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