Fear, Hope, Pride and Gratitude

My nephew became a bar mitzvah. We spent a beautiful Shabbos spent at my sister’s house. There were adults, teens, toddlers and babies filling up every space of her home. Following that Shabbos, I had an opportunity to talk to my brother-in-law’s mother, Mrs. Yehudis Flagler. I mentioned that it must have been so special for her to spend Shabbos at a simchah with so many of her children and grandchildren, ka”h.

Mrs. Flagler then shared her beautiful and poignant thoughts. When she was a young girl, she was stricken with polio. She lay isolated in the hospital for weeks while the virus was still contagious.  This period was followed by intense and often painful physical therapy to overcome the resulting paralysis and enable her to walk again.

One day, shortly after an extremely painful procedure, little Yehudis’ parents came to visit her. She was still sobbing from the pain, her cheeks damp from tears. For a mother to see her child like this was devastating, and the fear that took hold of Yehudis’ mother at that moment never completely left her. She wondered, what is going to be with this child?

B”H, this young child came home. She grew up and became a young girl and then a teenager. But the effects of the horrible disease never completely left her. Her mother experienced the constant fear and worry: Will my daughter ever get married? Will she have children? Will she be able to raise them? Her fears were shared by her daughter. Would she have the capabilities to raise a family and fulfill the dream that most young girls have?

B”H, she got married. And B”H she had a large family, ka”h.  With Hashem’s help, she raised a beautiful family that would make any mother proud

As the bar mitzvah celebration for her grandson was taking place, Mrs. Flagler sat in the corner of the room and thought, Surely my mother, from her place in the Olam Ha’emes, sees all this and is deriving much nachas from her beautiful family.Look at what I have. Look at what Hashem has blessed me with. I have so very much to be thankful for.

From such a bleak situation there emerged tens and tens of grandchildren, k”ah, who are continuing to follow in their grandparents’ ways.

Recently I took the old VHS tapes from my childhood and had them converted into DVDs. I popped one in to the computer, and suddenly I was watching a typical scene in my parents’ house. My mother and sister waved goodbye as they headed toward the front door for yet another trip to the mall.  Two of my siblings were sitting at the table doing homework. I was baking, and another sister walked over to the just-out-of-the-oven cookies and was sampling. There was music in the background; the scene lookedsurreal to me.

This brought to mind another memory. One evening amidst the typical hustle and bustle in the kitchen, my father walked in and looked around. With so much gratitude he said, “I can’t believe that all this is mine.”

I really didn’t understand what he was saying. I think I just thought he was being overly sentimental. But one thing I learned as a parent is that I experience similar emotions to what my father expressed that day.  Today I really understand him. I can’t believe what I can call mine. I am so grateful for it. I recognize that Hashem has truly showered me with berachah.

Lately I have been feeling fearful as well. Will my children turn out good? Will they get married and live productive lives? Will they travel the road I want them to travel? Will they achieve their potential? Will they live until 120? Will they have healthy children?

And I wonder, did my father ever look at his family and feel fear? Did he have all these questions swirling in his head?

I think that to some extent every parent worries. But too much worrying also means a lack of trust in Hashem – and it doesn’t accomplish anything!

Recently I was asked to define the word hope.

I realized that when I feel anxious, scared and apprehensive, then I feel hopeless. But when I can calm myself and recognize that my life is in Hashem’s hands, then I become transformed into a calm peaceful person. I would say that for me, the definition of hope is knowing that regardless of what happens, I will be okay.

For now I will try to incorporate the lessons of gratitude I learned from my sister’s mother-in-law. I will try to feel the pride that my father did. And I will try to worry less and hope more.

With continued tefillos to Hashem, I hope to one day sit in my children’s home enjoying true nachas.

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