Insight and Gratitude, an essay by Donnalee at
Patty Brito

Insight and Gratitude

Insight and Gratitude

written by: Donnalee Shapiro


For clarity I will begin by stating that I am a Nurse Practitioner and last night I was down in the recovery room looking after two of our fresh kidney transplant patients. After things eventually calmed down, I had a little time to talk with another nurse there. She wondered out loud who might have won the powerball jackpot worth hundreds of millions of dollars. We joked about what we might do if we won that money, but then, perhaps because we’re both older, nearer to our retirement, and have seen a lot throughout our nursing careers and life in general, we both agreed that there’s a lot more to life that makes us wealthy.
Most importantly, having the good fortune to be healthy is what is necessary in order to be able to enjoy having such wealth.

But naturally, me being me, I always have to put another spin on things. As many of my friends know, my mind on long drives has a habit of rehashing things and trying to put them into some meaningful perspective. This 90-minute drive home was no different and I started remembering things that made an impact on me and were worth far more to me than any amount of money. I’m talking about REAL wealth, that which is directly accumulated from the many small kindnesses we try to give to others throughout our lives. These few examples are a part of my wealth!

On my 40th birthday, my father, who suffered with pretty severe emphysema in his later years and had some pretty frightening episodes of shortness of breath, gave me a little guardian angel pin and said to me, “you are MY guardian angel”. Tears started flowing as I hugged my father, and his frail body hugged me back. Many years later, my mother had heart bypass surgery and I stayed overnight with her the first night out of the ICU. I remember after helping her back to bed from the bathroom and trying to make her comfortable again, my mother looking right into my eyes and saying to me, “you’re a good nurse Donna”. Coming from my mother, that was sheer gold to me! I literally heard those words in my head for days. I was so surprised at the impact those words actually had on me! But then, my mother had a devastating stroke the next day and she never regained her speech. How lucky was I to have been gifted such words from her!

My sister, 14 months younger than me and my only sibling, had a frightening cancer diagnosis and her treatments were grueling. Sometime after her treatments were completed and she was finally feeling a little stronger, my sister hugged me and told me that she “couldn’t have gone through those horrendous cancer treatments without me there to help her.” It overwhelmed my heart, realizing just how much I really mattered to her! After all, we only have each other now to lean on when the going gets rough!

My best friend was in hospice and after her death I received a beautiful letter from her daughter. She wrote that I was “the glue that helped her and her brother get through it”. I had no idea! I just knew I loved my best friend and her grown children and wanted to share this time together in whatever way that would make things easier.

In a final thought, when it’s my birthday and I hear the phrase “I love you and I’m so glad you were born”, money can’t buy that feeling that stirs within me. The bottom line is this. Money gets spent, expensive vehicles lose their value over time, and jewelry and the other varied toys of life feel good for a short while but the novelty eventually wears off. However, when the memories of how we were reflected in another person’s eyes makes us feel proud, or chokes us up with emotion, that’s a wealth that never dwindles, but instead, comes with compounded interest for the rest of our lives.

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