Editorials by Robert Kirwan
Next Time I Think I Have Anything to Complain About…
never ceases to amaze me that people who have been through some of the
most horrendous challenges this world can throw at them seem to have the
most positive outlook towards life. I met a wonderful lady the other day
who taught me a great deal about what it means to live one day at a time
and how happy you can be if you focus on what is truly important.
Her name is Gail Leroux.
She is from Capreol and was in a car accident when she was only 16 years
old. The accident left her with broken bones in 108 different places and a
life with over 50 operations. She’s been in and out of a wheelchair for
most of her life and has been free from painkillers for only a couple of
years. I’ve never seen her without a smile and she says she is so happy
to have her husband and her faith that she wouldn’t change a thing about
her life. Right now, her goals are to help raise funds for the March of
Dimes and to one day travel by wheelchair from
I can not imagine how I could
have personally survived the life she has been through. And yet, I think I
understand why she is so happy. I think I understand how others who have
been through what most of us would consider a very ‘unfair’ life of
pain and suffering still manage to live each day to the fullest. It’s
all a matter of perception. A matter of
how you look at life itself. A matter of being thankful that you are
At times we look at
people like Gail and feel sorry for them, wishing that we could do
something to help them get through their difficulties. But in many cases,
it is the very people who seem to be the most unfortunate who are the rich
ones. They are the ones who see life through different eyes, choosing to
be thankful for what they have instead of feeling sorry for themselves.
for example the story about the old man who showed up at the back door of
a house rented by a couple of college students. As the students cracked
open the door, they saw that his eyes were glassy and his face unshaven.
He said hello to them and offered to sell them some apples and oranges he
was carrying in an old basket. Although they had all the fruit they needed
already, the students made a purchase, mostly because they felt pity for
the old man and partly because they were afraid of him.
visits became more regular. The students began to realize the glaze on his
eyes was the result of cataracts, not alcohol. They became accustomed to
sound of his shuffling feet every morning. Sometimes he wore mismatched
shoes. He would often pull out a harmonica and begin playing sad, gospel
tunes in the middle of conversations with the students.
students realized that the old man didn’t have many friends. Perhaps
they were the only people who paid any attention to him. He showed them
the old shack where he lived and continued to sell apples and oranges to
the students almost every single day.
On one visit he said to the students, "What a day! I came out
of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my
students celebrated with him, not letting on that it was they who had
purchased the shoes and clothes and placed them on the porch as a gift.
They wanted to remain anonymous.
really glad for you," they exclaimed.
the old man added, "You know what’s even more wonderful? Just
yesterday I met some people who could really use them."
The old man enjoyed the
life he was living and was grateful for the shoes, clothing and
friendships he had with others. He was thankful for the opportunity to
share his good fortune with someone less fortunate than himself.
Gail Leroux enjoys the
life she is living and is grateful for her husband, her faith, singing in
the church choir and her friendships with people like 84-year old Gerty
Burnett. She is thankful for the opportunity to do something to help out
the March of Dimes.
Many of us will
complain about having to walk so far through a crowded parking lot to get
to the store, while others will never walk again. Others will be upset
that they couldn’t fit into the expensive dress they saw in the fashion
store the other day, while others will be trying to find enough money to
buy new snow shoes for their little daughter.
There is certainly a
lot to complain about today, but there is also a lot to be thankful for.
Usually, when we take the time to recognize our blessings, our troubles
don’t seem quite so large.
I’m glad I met Gail
Leroux. I’ll think about her the next time I think I have anything to
Have a good week!