KEVIN TATE: Counting our blessings in pursuit of happiness

KEVIN TATE

KEVIN TATE

Some blessings we give by gracefully receiving, a skill harder to cultivate than it would seem.

It’s a skill Rod Counce, of Saltillo, says he’s recently come to know.

“The chaplain at St. Jude met with us the first week we were there and told us we had to learn to swallow our pride and let people help us,” he said.

He and his family were rallying around Jace, 11, his older boy, who was battling lymphoma.

“It sounds silly to say but, when you’ve lived 44 years and never had to accept any help from anyone, it’s hard to accept it. I learned anytime you refuse in that situation to accept something from someone, you’re taking a blessing away from them.”

Sometimes just being near a family that’s faced down the unimaginable is a blessing that reminds us of the simple, every day things that define happiness.

Happiness, when I remember to take time to see it, is finding the clanging in the dryer to be rocks and Lego men, empty cartridge casings, a big, wooden letter Q and a random bolt that once was probably an important part of something, the myriad treasures a little boy picks up in the course of a day.

Happiness is a bathroom floor full of small clothes turned wrong side out, a lavatory painted with what I assume is unused kid toothpaste, cold water on the tile and no hot water left in the tank, evidence my little girl has recently passed this way.

It’s unsolicited praise for a daughter’s manners and remarks about her performance in school. It’s no bad reports about what new atrocities a son has committed just since noon today. It’s a voluntary hug from one or a surprise punch in the kidney from the other, quickly followed by a helpful report of what their dog has just done and where he did it and what it looks like and encouragement that I hurry up and clean it before it gets worse.

The small things remind us what’s real.

Blessings transcend happiness it’s true – but, like the sun, they can touch even those distant from their core, a thankful joy that warms all who see it. Jace is in full remission. He and his parents and brother are back to their normal lives. Math tests, school pictures, hanging out on the weekends, each a small happiness that reminds us of a blessing for which we should all be thankful.

Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.