Since the month of May, I've noticed a couple of petunias growing in a crack in my driveway. Being a flower lover, I could not bring myself to yank it out or spray it with a heavy coating of "Roundup" as I had several hundred other undesirable invasive species attempting to ruin the appearance of my landscape.
I thought I would just let them grow, believing eventually they would die, succumbing to the torture of being run over by my drivers side front tire at least three times a week or maybe because of me stepping on them regularly as I exited the vehicle, but no, they are still there. They even survived the gasoline spill that I caused while fueling my wood chipper.
It has been extremely hot here in the Louisville, Kentucky area for the last few weeks, staying in the 90's most everyday. I've found that all of my other annuals required watering at least every two days just to survive. Yet these two petunias just seemed to be thriving, no watering, no fertilizer and practically no soil! They look much healthier than the flowers I've been fertilizing and taking care of almost religiously!
After taking a photo of them today, while the heat index is at 103 degrees, by the way, these little plants gave me something to think about. They made me realize that sometimes some of the best people are those who have had to endure great hardship in order to get where they are right now. Many of you who know me personally know that my life was not a "bowl of cherries" either. I have a profound and deep respect for anyone who has had to deal with any life-changing challenges or illnesses and admire that you have fought through them and are doing well!
Me and my story? I was born in Italy, came here when I was ten months old. As immigrants who didn't speak the English language, my parents had to work extra hard to keep us fed, warm and clothed. I could go on for hours about where I lived and what my childhood was like, etc., but I won't. I'll just share a short list of challenges I've had to work through during my life:
PTSD from the military - Several different things I'd rather not discuss here. Still going to therapy at the VA.
Lost almost everything twice in my life and was almost at the point of bankruptcy. I always pay everyone back.
Lost over $690,000 (my retirement and investments) because I thought I could trust some friends as partners in a new business venture.
Drug addiction - Over seven years on opioids. Getting off of pain killers was one of the most difficult things I've done in my life. It is a very steep climb uphill, believe me! (I thank God that's over!)
Divorced too many times to mention. (I suck at marriage!)
Prostate Cancer - Had 43 radiation treatments. (I am now cancer free! YAY!)
As a result of radiation I now have to deal with chronic ulcerative colitis and a rapid increase of arthritis in various joints over the last two years.
A few other not so significant issues.
I'm not sharing my challenges in order to get sympathy nor am I whining. Everything that happened made me a much stronger person, giving me the strength to deal with whatever may come up next. I also have a much better understanding and have more compassion for others who may be facing similar life events. I do consider myself as a very fortunate individual who has been able to use my experiences in order to improve myself as a person, but also assist others through personal challenges, life's tragic events and obstacles they may be facing.
Most importantly, I do really have very awesome parts of my life:
My two children and my two step children have grown up to be wonderful, caring adults that have a sincere interest in doing what is right and helping others.
I have four awesome grandchildren.
I have an endless supply of people who care about me and would drop anything to talk to me if I called them.
I work whenever I want and go wherever I want
I have a beautiful place to live and I love being able to work on my own landscaping
I love sharing ideas that will help others become successful
My brothers and sister would do anything for me and I for them
I have the best job in the world, I get to help other people (and they pay me very well to do it!)
I love my customers! Thank You!
God has always been there for me, I know this.
On the other hand, it annoys me when I hear people complaining about how things aren't fair and want someone else to take care of their issues for them, especially when they have not lifted a finger to help themselves. I want to just put them on a plane to Liberia or Zimbabwe so they can experience real poverty and see how truly fortunate we are here in this country. If you were to listen to some of these talking heads in media you would think that half of the population of the United States was living in the worst conditions since the beginning of time. . . Simply because they can't get a free laptop for their free internet or don't have unlimited data on their free phone.
I don't want you to think I am belittling anyone who has been fortunate enough to have a life that was basically a smooth and easy ride. I'm happy for you and still have a great degree of respect for anyone who is happy and is enjoying their journey down the road of life. It's great that you took advantage of the opportunities that were available to you. Just appreciate what you have, be considerate of the those who haven't had the same doors opened for them as you, please!
After seeing the petunias in my driveway, I felt the need to acknowledge those people who have had to endure excessive challenges in life, yet still managed to figure out a way to work through all of the obstacles thrown at them. You're just like these petunias, enduring a rough existence, barely getting by with the minimal amount of resources, yet shining through it all and looking happy and more beautiful every day.
A special thanks to my friends Steve O'Rourke and Cecille Sebastion for their comments on Facebook that gave me the idea to share these personal thoughts here.
God Bless you!