Let me think more of my neighbor

Trigger warning: For those of you who have trouble with expressions of gratitude, go no further. This was a note I posted on my birthday in 2016 — sort of a health update for friends.

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes. I feel blessed. There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult year – my mother died, I’m single again, I’m still dealing with lingering health issues — but when I start counting my blessings, I soon run out of numbers.

People ask, so here is the health update:

A blessing: granddaughter Mabel

I spent two days at Dana Farber Cancer Institute this week, getting my semi-annual tests, scans and probes. I remain cancer-free.

However, all of the cancer surgeries created a row of hernias, so I had an operation in May to repair those. (I have a cool picture the doctor took of the inside of my guts and the hernias looked like space aliens. Let me know if you want to see it.)

I had kidney surgery last week and will have another kidney surgery some time this fall. I still have neuropathy in my feet and hands, a side effect of chemotherapy.

I also have mysterious pains in my knees and forearms. The arm pain, it turns out, might date from my time at dear old University High School. I broke my left arm one year while wrestling with John Day and broke my right arm the next year by diving into a wall while playing volleyball. I never noticed until this summer that I can’t straighten either arm.

Granddaughter Pearl: another blessing

But that’s small stuff. I feel great and there’s so much for which to be thankful:

I work in a wonderful American city

I do work (writing and teaching) that I love

I have great colleagues and friends

I live in a Norman Rockwell village and my children are safe

I have seven magnificent children and two grandchildren (one still in utero)*

I get off the train every morning at Fenway Park, my happy place (bless the Red Sox)

I have a fantastic mattress ….

You see why I run out of numbers.

My daily operating principles remain those expressed in song by Glen Campbell so long ago:

Let me be a little kinder.
Let me be a little blinder
to the faults of those around me.
Let me praise a little more.
Let me be, when I am weary,
just a little bit more cheery.
Let me think more of my neighbor
and a little less of me.

Thank you everybody.

Seven more blessings: Mary, Charley, Travis, Sarah, Graham, Jack and Savannah

(*) This has since changed, with the birth of Pearl.