I'm still hearing from readers sending their responses to my question of what life lessons are worth passing on.
One response is so thought provoking and well written that I want to print it in its entirety. This is what Kathy wrote:
"I am a little slow in replying to your column but better late than never. Being a wife, mom and nurse for over 35 years, I have learned many lessons that I would like to share.
1. Appreciate what you have right in front of you because in a second everything changes and things never go back to the way they were.
2. You can never ever take enough pictures of your family and friends. Take pictures of everything and take lots of pictures.
One day you will be so thankful to be able to look back at your life and savor all the wonderful events, big and small. Pictures help us hold special memories in our mind and heart and can provide much comfort whenever we need comforting.
Photos serve as reminders of all the things you go through in life and help us when everything changes.
3. If you have kids, give them the gift of your time, attention and love. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Cry with them.
Let them know that they are not perfect and many times we as parents have to let them make mistakes but also must be there to help them clean up their messes unconditionally.
No matter what, try to be in their corner but also try to balance out just what your kids need.
Put them in their place when they are being disrespectful but also be in their corner anytime they are down and try to make it better if you can.
Be happy that you are the first person they call when something happens, good or bad, and guide their footsteps in this trying world.
4. Last, but not least, life is definitely going to throw you many curves some good, some funny and some devastating.
Life is pretty easy when everything is going good. But it's what we do when our world is turned upside down that really matters.
Be strong. Pray always. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Never, ever stop learning and changing.
Remember life is a series of changes. Nothing ever stays the same. It's what we do when those changes come that makes us who we are!
Be kind. Kindness goes a long way. Be empathetic toward others, even strangers, for we never know what burden that person is dealing with."
Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your words of wisdom. I think a lot of readers will relate.
I was struck with what Kathy said about welcoming change. For most of us, I think that's one of the hardest things to do.
Some people can't handle change of any kind, regardless of how small a change it is.
One example is what happened at my first newspaper job when the boss decided we would all function better if he shook up the place with changes.
Some of us had the focus of our job changed. Others got away lightly. The only change they had to make was changing work stations.
I will never forget what happened when Betty learned she was being moved from a back office to the front reception desk. She had to take a medical leave because she said "her nerves couldn't take it."
I've always believed that those who do the best at work are those who can quickly adapt to job changes.
But there are a lot more serious changes that are harder to handle.
I have seen many people happily sail through life until they are hit with one of life's major changes.
Adjusting to the life changes that come with losing a beloved spouse is one of the hardest changes to handle.
It's not just being without the person that was always by your side. Losing a spouse can also mean losing your identity, your purpose, and your entire way of life.
On top of the normal grief that is difficult to overcome, there are lifestyle changes that are hard to handle.
Some respond with anger, railing against God for doing that to them.
Others go into a deep depression, unable to handle major changes.
From my own experiences as well as from letters readers have shared over the years, I know how devastating change can be.
When Andy died, everyone thought I handled it so well. How little they knew.
I looked for every support group or learning opportunity to help me adjust to my lifestyle change.
When a seminar was offered an hour away on accepting change, I signed up and listened to everything the speaker had to say. It helped. So did the support of my friends.
What I learned is that the old platitude is true: We have to close one door before we can open another. And what waits on the other side of that door can be incredible. For me, it has been.
But you'll never get to that "other side" if you don't learn to accept change.
It's another one of life's lessons.