Today: One of life’s great secrets for finding joy.
And it starts with a strong story. Ed Brown 58, a 1967-68 Vietnam War veteran today is a retired Forestry Dept. fire fighter. His wife Diane 49 is a neonatal intensive care nurse.
Of their four children, Jeffrey 25 and Timothy 22 proudly served in the U.S. military. Jeffrey, an Army Sgt. was a crew chief on a Black Hawk air ambulance helicopter in the Iraq war.
When Jeffrey completed his six-year commitment, he and his family thought he’d be discharged. But through a “backdoor draft,” the Army arbitrarily extended his service and kept him in his third tour of duty in Iraq. And Jeffrey continued to save wounded soldiers.
Then one day tragedy struck. Jeffrey’s helicopter crashed and he and another soldier were killed.
This sickening news overwhelmed the Browns, who in their heartache must now accept their son is dead and nothing can bring him back to them.
There will be no more Christmas holidays together, no more good times, no grandchildren and no future. Jeffrey will live only in their memories, in their pictures and within their hearts.
And if Jeffrey’s death wasn’t tragic enough, Ed is dying of thyroid cancer.
As my heart ached for the Brown family, I read an email medical update from Anne’s and my son Kevin 36, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff.
Several years ago, a drunk driver smashed into Kevin’s police car at a high rate of speed, totaling both cars. Thankfully no-one was killed.
The 19 year-old drunk driver was virtually uninjured and briefly went to jail. But Kevin has suffered through five back surgeries.
He’s had two discs removed and his spine fused with donor material and screws and rods added for support. Two of his remaining discs are herniated and severely painful for him.
Kevin has nerve damage that causes him “a whole host of horrors,” including “shooting pain down both legs front and back. This happens no matter what I do.”
We love Kevin very much and this is heart breaking for our family. Until reading the latest medical update, Anne and I had not been aware of the severity of Kevin’s injuries and she wept and I got sick to my stomach.
But Kevin is a dedicated police officer with 12 years of service. Rather than retire on a pension he continues his law enforcement career and currently is assigned to jail security.
Our family is extremely proud of Kevin. Given L.A. County’s needs, he often works a double shift and then returns home to his beautiful wife Melody and their adorable baby boy Brody.
We wish we could restore Kevin’s back and make the pain go away. And for this Anne and I pray for it hurts us and our family deeply and we desperately want to help him.
But we are thankful for the blessings that are Kevin, Melody and baby Brody and we are thankful that Kevin is still with us.
And we are thankful for the well-being of our other sons, Kyle and Clayton and their families and for the well-being of you and your family.
It is my heartfelt regret the Browns don’t have Jeffrey and by the time this story is published, Ed may no longer be with them. They are in my prayers and perhaps they will be in yours.
When you think of your problems, think about the Brown family, and other families who have lost their children, or whose children suffer from debilitating, life threatening diseases. Or think about those people who are alone, unloved and forgotten by the world.
As you do, I encourage you to be thankful for your blessings. Blessings such as love, the safety of your children, the company of others, good health, a sense of purpose and peace of mind and let them bring you a great depth of joy.
For one of life’s great secrets for finding joy is to appreciate your blessings while you have them.
Success Tip of the Week:
Be a blessing in someone else’s life. Find someone who is lonely and give them a phone call or even a visit. That little gesture could make a huge difference in the life of that person, and may even have a similar affect on your life as well.
Editor's Note: The Brown family story is from Jeffrey’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, 9/3/06.
In the next KazanToday:
Is there too much stress in your life? How to find a peaceful moment.