A Challenge to Find Gratitude

Challenge to find gratitude

This month, I accepted a challenge to find gratitude and thankfulness everyday. That’s 30 days of thankfulness. It has been uplifting and also eye-opening.

One of the surprises was my thankfulness for COVID-19. Looking at it closer, I believe it forced us all to realize many things like:

-we were living an overly fast-paced life
-touch is a blessing
-hugs can heal
-leaving elder family in the care of others takes away something much more valuable than money
-indeed, there is time to pursue a hobby
-some people seem to eschew infection of the flu

The last point is especially interesting to me.

How Many Times Have You Had the Flu?

Almost everyone I talk to suffered the flu at least once in their lives. This is true of some of my relatives. My mother knows she had the flu once. My eldest son also knows he had the flu. I know I have never had the flu. That’s right, never. I’ve also never had a flu shot. Why would I?

The Last Deadly Flu Pandemic

An article in yesterday’s paper reminded me how the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 affected my life. No, I’m not that old. But my paternal grandparents, Edith and Lenus, were living in Chicago, Illinois in the same rooming house at that time.

How a Pandemic Brought Them Together

Edith was the oldest of a farm family from central Wisconsin. She had been sent, at age 14, to Rockford, Illinois to help a relative during her pregnancy. Edith was forced to leave school. She wasn’t happy about it and soon saw an opportunity to go to Chicago. Traveling by herself she set off for the big city of Chicago and found employment in a hospital cafeteria. By that time, Lenus worked on a Lake Michigan barge, shoveling coal, having immigrated from Sweden at age 17. He found a room at the same boarding house.

My grandfather, Lenus, came down with the Spanish flu. Edith nursed him back to health. She didn’t contract the flu. Their friendship grew and courtship began. My grandmother told me this story and she kept daily diaries on very small tablets, written in beautiful penciled cursive handwriting.

Their wedding took place in 1923. I’m still working with my Wisconsin cousins on determining the exact date, but we all remember celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Wisconsin the summer of 1973.

From the formality of their wedding photo, it seems likely it was a big wedding on the family farm. What strikes me about their faces is the smile of Lenus and the sternness of Edith. Knowing them in later years, Lenus didn’t smile much and Edith smiled a lot. Growing up living next door on a Polk County, Florida lake, surrounded by a 10-acre citrus grove contributed to my quiet, country childhood.

I am grateful my grandfather was able to survive the pandemic and my grandmother had a rare immunity. Perhaps her strong constitution flows in my veins, fueled by shared DNA.

A Message of Hope for the Future

This true story of resilience and the effect now triangulate 100 years into the future. Young people who were exposed to COVID-19 and had no symptoms may have a natural immunity and pass it onto their children. Those who overcame their illness now have antibodies and a stronger constitution, which is also genetically and environmentally conducive to stronger future generations.

My Challenge to Find Gratitude

December is looming with holiday stress amplified in this year of the pandemic. Wouldn’t it feel good to find one thing to be grateful for each day in December? And how about sharing this challenge to find gratitude on social media? I pledge to post about gratitude everyday in December. Won’t you join me? You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by searching for @dawnoutside.

In gratitude for you,
Dawn