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Monday, December 31, 2012

Life is fair: It is all about perspective

My mother died at 66. In her mind, she got a raw deal. She worked her whole life and suffered some very bad times. When she retired in January of 2009 at age 65, she had overcome most of it and saved a very tidy sum. In her mind, she had 25 to 30 good years left and more than enough funds to enjoy it to the fullest. She had grand plans to get to and she was raring to go.
By October of that year, she was in a hospital bed and we found out a few months later she had a brain cancer that could really not be helped.
She died on November 18th, 2010. 
Outside of one good month, which was some sort of weird fluke due to the drugs she was taking, she spent all of that in a hospital bed in the worst kind of existence you could ever imagine. I saw that first hand and had to endure that. That was worse than her even dying. 
In the last few months of her life, she repeatedly said to me and anybody that would listen that:

"It's not fair"

Well, maybe it wasn't. But there are many ways to look at that. I will explore a few of those to make my point and express my philosophy of life.

My father died just about two months later, on January 24th, 2011. I think, in many ways he thought he got to live longer than he deserved. In that way, my parents had the opposite opinion on what happened to them. To me, they both had pretty much the same experience. Because we all do.
I think we neither get more time or less time than we deserve. Many babies die at birth. So, by that standard we are all luckier than them. We get to live life, They never did. Many friends of ours from high school didn't make it to their 19th birthday. I had a few of those. Most of us did. I have a few friends that died in their 30's. Last year, my best friends brother in law, who was very healthy up to that point, dropped dead of a heart attack at the dinner table. He was 44 and very healthy and happy just two weeks before at a function we were all at.
In those terms, my mother was very lucky and life was more than fair to her. She got 65 years. She had two kids. Both were very healthy and ended up doing very well for themselves. My sister had two boys, and my mother got to be a grandmother. In that way, life was pretty fair to her.
My mother, in her 20's, was very distraught, and suicidal for many a year. But, life was pretty fair to her. She was allowed to continue, and get past that. Some don't get that luxury.
My mother had a crap marriage. That lasted about 25 years. But, after she finally got out of that, she met someone who would stick with her for 20 years and was at her bedside when she took her last breath. He still mourns over her every time I take him out for dinner. How many people get that second chance in life? That is a pretty freaking good deal. Life was pretty fair to my mother that way.
My mother was not a very good driver. She would admit that. She didn't even get her drivers license until late in her twenties. She had
two bad accidents. she survived both of them, without a scratch. In either of them, had the circumstances only been slightly altered she could have been killed. Easily. 
One day just after my parents split up and before she started to turn her life around, we were sitting at the kitchen table and she said something to me I have never forgotten.
My cousin, Mitchell was in a very bad car accident traveling a very dangerous stretch of highway on his way home from University. It was a snowy, icy night. For whatever reason, the car he was in flipped over, at full speed on the highway and landed on it's roof. This was after several complete flips the car did.
There were four of them in that car. I knew all of them. My cousin got away with only minor injuries and has never had any lingering physical effects from that crash. Mental and psychological ones, I don't know. He has never mentioned it and seems well adjusted. He has two kids and a wonderful wife, and a very good life. One other guy, the driver, whom I didn't know well got away with only minor injuries. Two others, one of which I knew very well died in the crash. They were all 18.
We knew the family of the boy. They were obviously devastated. My mother and I were sitting at the kitchen table that night and she said this to me, 

"I guess the stuff that happens to us isn't really that bad. You were right, at least we are all alive and healthy. I would hate to be the parents of that boy and have to deal with that."    

Of course, this is not to suggest that I am minimizing the daily downs and troubles of life. I am not. They hurt. They are significant. But they are also relative. It is all about the perspective you take.
If you are reading this blog, that means you have gotten the ultimate gift. You still have life and you still have a chance to enjoy life, and take lifes knocks and carry on in spite of them. 
 And finally, as bad as our lives were at times when I was very young, we also had some good times. No, that isn't right. We had some great times. It goes both ways. It always has and it always will. Until you don't get to have that anymore.
Life is fair. You get what you are supposed to get and whatever that is, you take it and you just work with the fate of the cards as they are dealt.
I think if my mother could speak now, now that the pain is gone and she could reflect without the sorrow of the years she thought she was going to have but lost, she would say she had a pretty good life. A long life. A lot longer life and happier life than some, and not as much as others. Life was fair to her. Just as fair to her as it is to anybody.



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