Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday #8

Just a brief few thoughts today about some of the many things for which I am grateful.

1. Noelle was facing possible amputation of her right leg because of a bone infection. Fortunately, a new doctor showed up on the scene a few weeks ago and pronounced that he might be able to surgically eliminate the infection (and bone?) without amputating the leg. So, Noelle was admitted with the view to saving the leg, if possible, and we were quite hopeful that we might end up with some optimistic news. As things turned out, we ended up with better than good news; we ended up quite surprised and grateful. The infection had abated sufficiently that all the doctor had to do was to insert some tubing so that the remaining infection can be pumped out over the next weeks or months. Noelle will be released tomorrow.

2. I planned to go to the hospital in a nearby city for a routine blood test (cholesterol) this morning before attending daily Mass, then dropping in to see Noelle, whose surgery was done, without our being told, a day earlier than planned, i.e. yesterday. (Given the results, we have no complaints about missing the surgery. The important thing is that the patient and doctor were both there and did not miss the surgery. I, however, missed my blood test. I forgot my paperwork, and no one was in my doctor's office to fax the order. This was after fasting for 12 hours! However, as I discussed the problem with the doctor's assistant, trying to avoid the need to drive all the way back to San Ignatio, she piped up with the information that the little part-time clinic here in San Ignatio draws blood from 8-10 on Friday mornings. I confirmed. Yes! I can go in just a little late to work and get the blood drawn here. That will save me lots of time in the future. I love it when mistakes turn out to be so helpful. That is often the story of my life, and for that I am indeed grateful.

3. Today, Lizzie (oldest daughter, then age 11), now a professor of cognitive neuroscience and psychology, put a note for her students and others on her Facebook page about the value of failure for learning lessons and becoming better. Yes! Many years ago, when she was 11 years old, she was a straight-A student, knowing nothing about failure. She excelled at whatever she touched, especially academically. Then, she and I went to Moscow for almost a year, where she studied in Russian schools. When she returned to her advanced 8th grade classroom (where students were all working in 9th grade subjects), she had six weeks of school left. Once again, she excelled at English, French, and all her social studies and science classes, as if she had never left. Two subjects, though, produced major hiccups: math and band. She had studied algebra in Moscow and was quite good at it. However, Russian students learn how to do the calculations before studying the theory, and American students study the theory first. So, she failed her theory tests, surprising the teacher when she got 100% on the only exam, the last of the year, when he introduced the topic of calculations. She had to go to summer school. As for band,she had been only introduced to the parts of the flute when we left for Moscow in October. In April, when we returned, everyone was already playing band pieces. She failed band and was told that participation in high school band was "out." The band director also advised her that holding out any dream of learning to play music was naive since she clearly had no talent for it. Off Lizzie went to summer school, studying algebra every morning, and acing all her exams. Her A from summer school replaced her F from the school year, and she was placed in the college track geometry course for her freshman year, finishing that course, too, with an A. In the afternoons, she practiced her flute. She really wanted to learn to play it, so I advertised for a tutor. A member of the Marine Corps band replied. (We were fortunate that we were living in the Washington DC area at the time.) That man was truly gifted and truly patient, with an unusual teaching style in which he had Lizzie observe him (smart man -- observation first is her learning style), then try to follow suit. By the end of the summer, not only could she play the flute, but she could play it very well. She approached the high school band director and asked to audition. He agreed, then took her into the band. During her high school years, she played flute in the school band, school orchestra, marching band, and drama club pit orchestra. When the band lost both its saxophone players at the end of her junior year, she and her best friend taught themselves to play the sax and switched instruments. At her graduation ceremony, Lizzie was presented the band's Most Valuable Player award for that year. I am grateful that Lizzie learned the value of failure. I am also grateful -- and delighted -- to see her passing the lesson that she learned as a child along to her college students of today.

For what are you grateful?

More information about the Thankful Thursday meme can be found at the website of Grace Alone.

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