When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying, “Everybody’s got something.” She didn’t say it frequently but often enough that I remember. Since it was often accompanied with a sigh and maybe a sad-eyed look, I always assumed it had negative connotations as in, “Everybody’s got a cross to bear.”
I gradually learned that my Mom’s words also had another layer of meaning. It wasn’t just that you’ve got something – you also need to deal with it. She was a practical woman – and a strong-willed woman – and she meant, “Don’t spend too much time whining and complaining. Everybody’s got something – you’re not a special case. Just get on with it.”
My Mom’s words came to mind when I was diagnosed with MS in 2008. Since I was 58 at the time and generally healthy, I was stunned. But then, I’ve always been a late bloomer. So what did my Mom – now long dead – have to say to me? Pretty simple: “Everybody’s got something – just get on with it.”
So, I’ve been trying to get on with it. I was angry for a while but then decided that anger was getting me nowhere. Like my Mom, I’m a fairly practical person and I realized that it’s not practical to waste any time being bitter. So, as much as possible, I stopped being angry and focused on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do. (I should say that I have a relatively mild case – relapsing-remitting – and my main goal is to avoid a relapse).
As I focused on staying healthy, I realized that my mother’s words had yet another layer of meaning. As she might say, “We’re all different but we’re all God’s children and everybody’s got something to contribute.” We all have problems to face but we all have something positive to contribute as well.
So what can I contribute? Well, I have a background in marketing and I’m pretty good at asking people for money. I decided that I could contribute by raising money for the National MS Society. So far, I’ve raised about $40,000. I also enjoy writing and I’d like to contribute my thoughts for this blog. Maybe what I’ve learned will be useful to others as well. As my Mom would say, “Everybody’s got something.” Turns out she was right.