Not always easy to appreciate our loved ones

Editor February 18, 2017 Comments Off on Not always easy to appreciate our loved ones
Not always easy to appreciate our loved ones

I spent this past weekend thinking more than usual about the closest people to me, trying to appreciate them for who they are.
It’s not always easy to do is it?
Ask anyone if they appreciate their closest family members and, of course, they will quickly answer in the affirmative.
But why is it difficult at times to appreciate them on a daily basis the way we know we should, and actually, the way we really want to?
I guess that’s one of those questions for God. And for that matter, I seem to recall a popular saying about the fact that we “hurt the ones we love the most.” I don’t know how famous that statement is, but I know I’ve seen it various places online and in FB posts. And it certainly is true that we don’t always appreciate our loved ones as we wish we would.
The reason I was thinking a lot about that was because of the interview I did last week with Larry and Susan O’Mahoney, parents in Mandeville who had four children. Today, however, they only have three around to love since their 21-year-old daughter Kelly died two years ago after battling a brain tumor that was cancerous.
As I sat at the table with this couple I had just met, I listened to their story about Kelly, an outstanding soccer player who lived in a wonderful family. It was clear how much love they had for each other. Life was good, until one day it all changed when Susan and Kelly sat across the desk from a doctor who told them she had a brain tumor.
Not only had Kelly never had any medical problems to speak of, but she was as strong and healthy as a young person could be. Yet, for a reason none of us will know on this Earth, life was flipped upside down for the family.
A year later Kelly was in a hospital bed in New Orleans and her life came to an end. If you think that two-and-a-half years will change the raw emotion of family members when talking about a loved one who died then think again.
Some personal stories from Susan and Larry were hard to tell through the tears—it was so clear the pain is as difficult as ever to deal with.
You can read the complete story on Kelly O’Mahoney in this newspaper next Thursday, Feb. 23 and what is now a great St. Tammany organization the family and friends have created known as Kelly Kicking Cancer. They have raised and donated over $57,000 for brain cancer research, along with handing out five scholarships to young women who are much like Kelly was. And they have done that while still dealing with the pain.
What amazes me is how anyone can take a tragedy like that and turn it into something positive. Yes, I know the Bible reminds us of that in Romans 8:28 when it says “all things work together for good for those who love God,” but I think we all know that it isn’t the first thing to tell someone who has just lost a loved one.
However, I have written numerous stories about brave people like Larry and Susan who have done that and I’m amazed over and over when I get to tell their stories. Not only did they appreciate their family, but I heard many stories of how they showed it over-and-over.
When I left the interview I could only thank God for my family and thank Him for the fact I had not been someone asked to go through such a heartbreaking situation. At least to this day it hasn’t happened, but I also know that tomorrow could be the day it does. So for now, I thank Him for those loved ones around me.
Why do our human minds and emotions work that way? Why do we so easily hurt the ones we love most, or at the very least, treat them less than we want to?
I know that life’s difficulties wear on us all. The daily grind to get up each day and face the challenges in life will force you to say things you really don’t mean, and do things you later regret.
I guess that’s why we need those constant reminders like the story from Larry and Susan. I hope God blesses them for being willing to tell it.
But we also need the daily reminders in the Bible, or whatever sources of daily inspiration we can find to refocus our minds on what matters most. While money seems to get a lot of attention from us all—whether it’s good or not—I pray I can keep remembering and appreciating those closest to me.
The good times with them each day, and simple relationships we have with those loved ones is what makes each day a good one. If we can remind ourselves about getting to live a life with the smiles and love of our family we are reminded that life is really pretty good.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at kevinchiri@gmail.com.

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