Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

The Best Gifts Are Passed Down From One Generation To The Next

Someone asked me what was the best gift I ever received. I’ve been stumbling over my response to this question ever since.

love and compassion

I didn’t want to answer by saying something obvious, like a happy marriage (which I never take for granted) or something tangible like a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Then it hit me.  Of course.  It was right in front of me all the time.

The best gift I ever received might sound strange to you, but its the lessons I learned about myself, and from those around me, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.    

Being diagnosed with an incurable chronic illness is not only about the patient. It’s also about those who love and care about you. The courage and love shown by family and friends while the sting of the diagnosis is fresh and raw is a true lesson.

And a gift.

My family showed courage the day of my diagnosis.  My mother had the unenviable task of telling me about my diagnosis, something no mother should ever have to do.  My brothers hugged me, and my father quietly kissed my forehead while gently stroking my hair.

My boyfriend held me close, and whispered he was with me for the long haul.

My three best friends cried and laughed with me as we listened to each other’s words of wisdom.

This is how my journey began.

Family gifts

Over the years I’ve had friends drop off the radar.  Because of their ignorance and inability to understand illness, I’ve been hurt, questioned and misunderstood. This served to strengthen me, and was the catalyst in my need to educate and spread awareness about MS and that, despite having a disability, my abilities are what define me.

The gifts I received of love and understanding are the ones I’ve tried to pass on.

When my son was born we decided to always be truthful with him, even about my illness.  Mommy can’t run, Mommy gets tired, Mommy has good days and bad.  We also wanted him to learn the importance of a positive attitude, tolerance and being compassionate.

When my MS Center was celebrating their 10th anniversary my son was 3 years old.  A popular local newscaster was attending their celebratory event, and my son and I were going as well. While the newscaster was speaking, I noticed my sweet little boy climbing up into the lap of one of our dear friends who was severely disabled and required a wheelchair.

I smiled when I noticed the joy on the man’s face.  That tiny act from our big-hearted, innocent child stayed with me all these years later.  I knew in my heart that we had, indeed, instilled in our son the best gifts I ever received:  love, compassion and an understanding heart.

My “best gift” was being passed down from one generation to the next.

gifts of family

 

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42 thoughts on “The Best Gifts Are Passed Down From One Generation To The Next

  1. Claudia Schmidt

    Oh, what a beautiful post. I was going to actually use a similar one for mine and say that the “gift” of having breast cancer gave me back so many things in my life, so I can very much relate. You’ve given your son such a role model, a gift that will live on in his life and which I’m sure he’ll pass on to his children when he has them. xo
    Claudia Schmidt recently posted…My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2013My Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Claudia. People without health issues may think we’re crazy, but we are in a big club of people that know it can be a gift when we step back and find the lessons illness can teach us.

      I am so thrilled you read my post, and equally happy you shared your thoughts.

      Best to you always~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, we older birds are a strong flock, aren’t we? Diagnosed at 26 (but I think I’ve had it since 21 after a car accident). I know you know what I’m talking about when I say unconditional love can carry you through your darkest days. Right?

      Thanks for your lovely thoughts. I wish you all good health through the holidays and in 2014.

      Thanks, dear friend~
      Cathy

  2. Connie McLeod

    Cathy, your shining spirit is strong in this heartfelt post. I know that it’s your great attitude that has contributed to your having more good days than bad with MS. I too struggled with what to write for this bloghop. A cold winter day led me to warm thoughts. I send you warm thoughts during this cold season.
    Connie McLeod recently posted…Gift of a LifetimeMy Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      A cold winter is almost a writer’s best friend, eh?

      Thanks for your lovely comments, Connie. I always look forward to reading what you have to say.

      Have a wonderful day~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you so much, Haralee! I sincerely appreciate your lovely comments. They always mean a great deal to me.

      Best to you always~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thanks, G&F. It’s so important to provide our children with a solid education as well as food, clothing, etc. But to learn from our example about love, kindness and compassion is, perhaps, the greatest gift of all.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

      Best~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      You got me to grab a Kleenex on that comment, Anne. Thank you SO much.

      One of my great blessings is having you in my life. G-d is good….

      Big hugs~
      Cathy

  3. Pat Sheffer

    Thank you Cathy, for sharing such a wonderful story. You are so right, that is the best gift! I think it is so important for mothers to know they’ve instilled those gifts in their children. I also liked your comment that we older birds are a strong flock…..lol. We definitely are! We tend to perservere! =)

  4. Karen D. Austin

    Great post! I don’t have a chronic disease, but my mother does (chronic fatigue syndrome). She talks about how she has a reality that few people can really understand. I try to empathize, but she says that even her spouse doesn’t really “get it.” I am glad that you have such a strong community of supporters with family, friends and ppl from the MS community. I just watched an interview with Michael J. Fox (Parkinson’s) who said that he is glad he has the diagnosis because he has enjoyed such a rich life since meeting advocates and researchers and others with PD. I thought that was interesting and a very life affirming statement. Have a delightful holiday season.
    Karen D. Austin recently posted…Mismatched GiftsMy Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      CFS is a real condition, so tell your mother I know exactly what she means. It’s hard for others, although sympathetic, to truly understand exactly what you are going through. That is so true for any ailment. So important to have compassionate people surround you.

      I have been watching the Michael J. Fox Show built around him having PD. Such courage and an inspiration to everyone. Marvelous.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Karen.

      Best to you~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Life’s best gifts – the ones we are talking about – are so important in today’s crazy world. Heck, they are always important!

      Thank you so much for reading my blog, and taking the time to leave your thoughtful comments.

      Best~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      That’s so sweet of you, Lois. I love reading your thoughts, and I am so glad you have such sweet thoughts about me! It means a lot to me.

      Big hugs~
      Cathy

  5. Deb

    I received a Christmas card in the mail the other day, and the message on it said; “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time,your attention, and your love”. Like you said Cathy, these are life’s best gifts!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I love that, Deb! Love, love, love.

      You know I mentioned you and Dawn in this post, right? You two were two of my greatest gifts, EVER.

      Love you so~
      Cath

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Sheryl, for your lovely comments. But you have found silver linings as well. I guess that’s a part of what has drawn us together in friendship! We are blessed..

      Have a wonderful day~
      Cathy

  6. belinda brock

    thanks for sharing that beautiful post—i consider it a gift! i don’t have ms, but i do have a chronic illness and could relate.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Anyone with any kind of illness can relate, right Belinda? It’s our story, together.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Best~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, sweet girl. Your lovely comments are very much appreciated!

      Have a marvelous day~
      Cathy

  7. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Your positive attitude brings hope to so many who may be struggling. Thank you for sharing your life’s lessons and teaching us all about perseverance in the face if challenges.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, my dear and lovely friend Helene. You are so generous. But you have shown me grace and beauty in ways you cannot imagine.

      Thanks so much for your comment~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, we ARE alike, Mrs. Carpenter. In more ways than one. I think if we lived closer we’d be having cups of coffee together almost every day. Or walking together. Slowly.

      Thanks for your comments, Lisa. They made me feel wonderful.

      Hugs~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      It’s up to you, Phoebe, but jump in if you can. I am sure you have a lot to say and we’d be excited to read it!

      Thanks for leaving your lovely comments and for sharing your thoughts.

      Best always~
      Cathy

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Oh, what a lovely thing to say, Lynne. I sincerely appreciate it. Truly..

      Have a wonderful weekend~
      Cathy

  8. Kirk

    Interesting . . .

    I immediately thought about my 11-year old grandson who called me last night out-of-the-blue (he never calls explicitly for me) to ask if I’d go to the movies with him tomorrow. It had nothing to do with MS and THAT is what I am most thankful for . . . the simple pleasures of life. BTW of course I said “Yes!” (I’m sure he intends to buy my ticket but I will probably not let him buy the popcorn & drinks.)

    Life is NOT about MS: as much as it tries to be.
    Kirk recently posted…“See What You Have Done”My Profile

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